SC condemns mob lynchings, asks Parliament to make law
The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Parliament to consider bringing a new law to deal with offences of mob violence and provide deterrent punishment to offenders amid rising attacks by self-styled cow vigilantes and crowds in the country.
“Citizens cannot take the law into their hands and cannot become the law unto themselves ... Horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be allowed to become a new norm and have to be curbed with iron hands,” the bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said.
The bench, which also comprised justice AM Khanwilkar and justice DY Chandrachud, passed a slew of directions to provide “preventive, remedial and punitive measures” to deal with offences like mob violence and cow vigilantism.
“In case of fear and anarchy, the state has to act positively. Violence can’t be allowed,” it said.
The top court directed state governments to designate a senior police official as the nodal officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching. It asked them to immediately identify districts, sub-divisions and villages where such incidents have been reported in the last five years.
The Centre and state governments were also asked to broadcast on radio, television and other media platforms, including the official websites of the home department and police, that lynching and mob violence of any kind shall invite serious consequence under the law.
They must curb and stop the dissemination of irresponsible and explosive messages, videos and other material on various social media platforms which have a tendency to incite mob violence and lynching of any kind, the top court said.
It was hearing a bunch of petitions including those by social activist Tehseen Poonawalla and Tushar Gandhi, great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, seeking formulation of guidelines to curb such violent incidents in the country.
It posted the public interest litigation for further hearing on August 28 and asked the Centre and state governments to take steps to deal with such offences in pursuance of its directions.
The court had said earlier in July that states are under obligation to prevent lynchings and mob violence and such incidents cannot happen by the remotest chance.
More than 20 people have been reportedly beaten to death in different parts of the country since the first week of May following rumours, mostly propagated on social media and messaging platforms, that peddle fear of outsiders kidnapping children.
Police and government warnings to people not to believe in such messages have gone unheeded and in Tripura, a mob lynched a person hired by the government to dispel such rumours.