Death in hate crimes, life term for lynching proposed by Rajasthan
The Rajasthan government has proposed a death penalty for hate crimes against people in the name of honour and tradition and life imprisonment for mob lynching leading to death, in two separate bills tabled in the assembly Tuesday.
Rajasthan is the first state in India to have a special law to deal with hate crime against couples and the second, after Madhya Pradesh, on lynching. Both states are ruled by the Congress.
The bill against hate crimes, “The Rajasthan Prohibition of Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances in the Name of Honour and Tradition Bill, 2019”, even provides punishment for holding assemblies to condemn inter-caste and inter-community marriages in the name of family honour.
Though the death penalty is only given in the rarest of rare cases, the bill said a special law addressing hate crimes would act as a deterrent.
In the case if the crime resulting in the death of a couple, or either of the partners, the punishment mentioned in the bill is death or life imprisonment; the bill also prescribes a penalty of up to ~5 lakh in such cases.
The bill empowers the sub-divisional magistrate or district magistrate to prevent such assemblies and take steps to ensure safety of the couple.
The mob lynching bill, titled “The Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill, 2019”, states that offences under it will be tried by a sessions court and be cognizable, non- bailable and non-compoundable. It says a person who commits an act of lynching which causes death will face rigorous life imprisonment and a fine of ~lakh to ~5 lakh. In case of grievous hurt, the punishment proposed is jail up to 10 years and a fine of ~25,000 to ~3 lakh.
The bill also prescribes a jail term of up to five years and penalty of ~one lakh for obstructing arrest of the accused, creating hurdles in legal proceedings or threatening the witnesses.
The bill prescribes a procedure for appointment of a coordinator at the state and district levels as directed by the Supreme Court and witness protection, and adds that mob lynching cases will not be investigated by an officer below the rank of police inspector.
Both the bills were tabled by Law Minister Shanti Dhariwal and will be taken up for discussion on August 5.
Civil society activists came out strongly against the manner in which the bills had been introduced without any public consultation. Several civil society organisations have written to the CM office and Dhariwal demanding the bills be debated.
Aruna Roy of MKSS and PUCL Rajasthan president Kavita Srivastava demanded the bills be referred to a select committee. Srivastava said any bills should be scrutinised and publicly debated. “No one has seen these bills and they are passed without debate. We demand they be referred to a select committee and our views should be heard.”