Tharoor’s Protection from Lynching Bill calls for jail for erring policemen and DMs

‘The act of wilful omissions and commissions by the custodians of the State, which facilitates mob lynching, must be recognised as a criminal act under the eyes of the law,’ it says.

A series of lynching incidents have plagued India ever since the BJP government rode to power in the nation in 2014.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tabled The Protection from Lynching Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha last Friday, which proposes a life term for one who lynches people, as well as a year’s jail for a police officer who fails to prevent an incident of lynching and acts in a dubious way during the probe. A district magistrate who fails to take proper action should face jail for six months, it suggests.

The Thiruvananthapuram MP’s Bill, according to a Deccan Herald report, aims to provide for “effective protection” of the constitutional rights of vulnerable persons, “punish” acts of lynching, set up designated courts and rehabilitation of victims and their families.

“The rising spate of vigilantism and mob lynching on the basis of one’s individual identity and choices threatens the notion of an all-embracing India and is a direct threat to the Constitutional ethos of our country. This, therefore, necessitates the need for a special law to aid vulnerable individuals and communities,” the Bill says.

“The act of wilful omissions and commissions by the custodians of the State, which facilitates mob lynching, must be recognised as a criminal act under the eyes of the law,” Tharoor argues in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill.

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The Bill wants every police officer to take “all reasonable steps” to prevent any lynching, including its incitement, commission and possible spread, identify patterns of violence and obtaining intelligence.

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It also suggests a designated judge to look after lynching cases and trial to be held on a day-to-day basis with recording of statements of victim and witnesses within 180 days from the date of the incident. If further discusses compensation and medical aid in lynching cases.

A series of lynching incidents have plagued India ever since the BJP government rode to power in the nation in 2014, with the most notorious being the Mohd Akhlaq mob lynching of 2016 in Uttar Pradesh.

The State must act as the “bulwark of the freedoms” enshrined in the Constitution and special procedures are required to ensure an effective and independent prosecution of crimes and to deter the growing number of vigilante groups which act with “impunity, in contempt of the secular fabric” of India, according to the Bill.

Tharoor also calls for those creating a hostile environment through intimidation and coercive actions like boycott of trade, making it difficult to earn a living, externing a person or his family, and forcing one to leave his house to be jailed for six months, with fines ranging between Rs 25,000 and Rs 5 lakh.

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