17, Jul 2018 | CJP Team
In a landmark judgment on the unabated and unabashed lynching of people across India, the Indian Supreme Court has come down heavily on perpetrators of such crimes as well as the law and order machinery that has failed to curb this menace. The strongly worded judgment, not only condemns “horrendous acts of mobocracy” but also directs the centre and the states to take preventive, punitive and remedial measures.
The judgment authored by Chief Justice Deepak Misra said, “The majesty of law cannot be sullied simply because an individual or a group generate the attitude that they have been empowered by the principles set out in law to take its enforcement into their own hands and gradually become law unto themselves and punish the violator on their own assumption and in the manner in which they deem fit.”
The judgment further reiterates an accused’s right to a lawful trial saying, “No act of a citizen is to be adjudged by any kind of community under the guise of protectors of law. It is the seminal requirement of law that an accused is booked under law and is dealt with in accordance with the procedure without any obstruction so that substantive justice is done.” The judgment further says explicitly,
No individual in his own capacity or as a part of a group, which within no time assumes the character of a mob, can take law into his/their hands and deal with a person treating him as guilty. That is not only contrary to the paradigm of established legal principles in our legal system but also inconceivable in a civilized society that respects the fundamental tenets of the rule of law.”
The entire judgment of the Supreme Court may be read here:
The Supreme Court was hearing a batch of writ petitions, prominent among which was a writ petition filed by Dalit leader and social activist Martin Macwan, seeking directions to various State Governments to take immediate and necessary actions against the Cow Protection Groups also referred as Gau Raksha Dals and to the Central Government to ban such gangs/groups. The petition, filed in 2016, also prays for the removal of violent content uploaded by these Gau Raksha Dals on various modes of social media and compensation from the concerned state governments for the victims of violence committed by these ‘vigilantes’. On April 17 last year, the Supreme Court had issued notice on this petition. The Central government had been compelled to state that it did not support this violent vigilantism.
The other significant petition that was a part of the batch was a petition filed by the Human Rights Law Network on behalf of the Khudai Khidmadgar and Others. Their plea that came in wake of the horrific lynching of Alimuddin Ansari in Ramgarh in Jharkhand, highlighted how the victims of lynch mobs were usually dalits, tribals and Muslims. The petition also spoke of the “casual approach of the police in dealing with such heinous hate crimes”. It also highlighted the frequency of the lynching incidents based on multiple media reports.