As lynchings increase, Modi government lingers on central law Supreme Court wanted a year ago

PM Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah at the publication of the manifesto in New Delhi | Photo: Praveen Jain | The imprint

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New Delhi: As India debates Tabrez Ansari’s latest lynching in Jharkhand, it has been more than a year since the Supreme Court urged parliament to pass a law to deal with the increase in such crimes.

But several lynching incidents later, there has been no movement to introduce the legislation. During the year, however, at least 21 states, including Jharkhand, filed their compliance reports with the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court had, on July 17 of last year, asked parliament to propose a law to fight against “horrible acts of mobocracy”.

“Serious actions and concrete steps must be taken to protect citizens against the recurring pattern of violence, which cannot become the new normal. The state cannot ignore the growing rumblings of its people, ”said a bench composed of then Indian Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud. The judgment came in response to a contempt motion deposit by activist Tehseen Poonawalla.

A week later, then Home Secretary Rajnath Singh told parliament that, if necessary, the government would enact an anti-lynching law.

BJP spokesperson and Supreme Court lawyer Nalin Kohli told ThePrint that since Rajnath Singh’s statement the country has gone to the elections, which may explain why there has been no progress on the law a year later. “It will be necessary to verify whether such a need has been felt by the government and whether the data indicates the requirement for such a law,” he said.

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SC had published a list of directives and guidelines

In addition to asking for a law, the Supreme Court had issued an “11-point prescription” guidelines and guidelines that state governments must follow to curb lynchings.

The list included measures such as appointing a senior police officer in each district to take action to prevent mass lynchings, registering FIRs under relevant legislative provisions against people disseminating irresponsible and explosive messages , and the preparation of a compensation program for victims of lynching, among others.

So far, 21 states, including Jharkhand, have filed affidavits to the Supreme Court, claiming to have complied with the guidelines. “These guidelines issued by the Supreme Court are legally binding and all states must comply with them,” Colin Gonsalves, senior counsel for the Supreme Court, told ThePrint.

In January 2019, Manipur became the only state in the country to enact an anti-lynching law. However, he has not yet submitted an affidavit indicating that he is complying with the guidelines.

“A central law would guarantee a certain consistency and standardization in the penalization of the culprits, as well as the compensation of the relatives of the victim,” said Poonawalla. “If we leave it to the states to follow the guidelines, they will say we did our best and that would be it. “

The government appointed a panel but ignored the findings

On instructions from the Supreme Court, the Modi government appointed a panel to deliberate on the possibility of enacting an anti-lynching law. The panel included senior officials and was chaired by Union Interior Minister Rajiv Guba. Its meetings were attended by lawyer Anas Tanvir Siddiqui and Poonawalla.

“The focus of government officials was only on amending existing provisions, and they had problems with the anti-lynching law we proposed,” Siddiqui told ThePrint. “They needlessly pinched aspects of our proposal that would hold the police and IAS agents accountable.”

The panel submitted his report to a group of ministers led by Rajnath Singh in August 2018.

“The report is in a cold room as there has been no progress since it was submitted,” Siddiqui said. “Also, we never received a copy of this report, so we don’t know if our proposals were even incorporated.”

Home Ministry sources said there was no official update on the status of the report and whether it was being implemented.

Jharkhand case

In the Jharkhand lynching case, two members of the police were suspended for “insensitive treatment” and 11 people were arrested. The incident became public knowledge when a horrific video of Tabrez, 24, tied to a utility pole and beaten on suspicion of being a thief, was released.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday says he’s sorry by the Jharkhand lynching case, but added: “none of us has the right to insult the Jharkhand state”.

One of the guidelines of the 11-point statute of limitations issued by the Supreme Court was that state governments should “immediately identify districts, sub-divisions and villages where cases of lynching and mass violence have been reported in a country. recent past “.

But the Tuesday of the Center told parliament that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) does not keep specific data on incidents of lynching in the country.

Poonawalla said that unless there is a central law, all government authorities will follow their statements condemning the lynchings with a “but”. “‘He was lynched but he was a thief’, or ‘He was lynched but we shouldn’t tarnish the image of the state’ – that’s the kind of response we have to beware of,” he said. he declared.

Read also : 91-year-old law makes a comeback in India amid lynchings, WhatsApp transfers

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