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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 33 New Delhi August 4, 2018

Lynching: Mismatch between Law And Reality

Tuesday 7 August 2018

by Arup Kumar Sen

Public lynching has become an organic part of the reality in contemporary India. Very recently (July 17, 2018), a three-judge Supreme Court bench comprising the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud condemned the “sweeping” incidents of lynching as “an affront to the rule of law and to the exalted values of the Constitution”. Passing a series of “preventive, remedial and punitive” measures to deal with lynchings and mob vigilantism, the Bench said: “...we think it appropriate to recommend to...the Parliament to create a separate offence for lynching and provide adequate punishment for the same. We have said so as a special law in this field would instil a sense of fear for law amongst the people who involve themselves in such kinds of activities.” (See The Indian Express, July 18, 2018)

But, there is a huge gap between law-making and the reality. Within a few days after the Supreme Court ruling, Rakbar Khan was lynched by a mob in Rajasthan’s Alwar. According to Aslam, Rakbar’s friend and an eyewitness who survived the attack, the gau rakshaks who lynched Rakbar said: “The MLA is with us, nobody can do anything to us. Put him (Rakbar) on fire.” (The Times of India, July 24, 2018)

We would like to assert in the language of The Times of India editorial “Stop Lynchings” (July 3, 2018), written before the Supreme Court ruling: “In the gau raksha lynchings too, an atmosphere of communal discord and hatred against Muslims prepared fertile ground for vigilantism to ensue...What is needed is political and institutional will to nail those who take the law into their own hands. The contagion effect of spreading impunity is clearly discernible.

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