Considering the increasing incidents of mob lynching, the Union Government on July 23, 2018 constituted a High Level Committee chaired by the Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba to deliberate in the matter and make recommendations.
The Secretary, Department of Justice; Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs; Secretary, Legislative Department; and Secretary, Social Justice and Empowerment are the members of the committee.
The committee will submit its recommendations to the Government within four weeks, that is, by August 2018.
GoM headed by Union Home Minister to consider recommendations of High Level Committee
The Union Government also constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to consider the recommendations of the High Level Committee.
The other members of the GoM are the Union Minister of External Affairs, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Union Minister of Law & Justice and Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment.
The Group of Ministers will submit their recommendations to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
'Police' and 'Public Order' are State subjects
The Union Government is highly concerned about the incidents of mob violence in some parts of the country. Government has already condemned such incidents and made its stand clear in the Parliament that, as per the Constitutional scheme, 'Police' and 'Public Order' are State subjects.
State Governments are responsible for controlling crime, maintaining law and order, and protecting the life and property of the citizens. They are empowered to enact and enforce laws to curb crime in their jurisdiction.
Earlier, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on July 20, 2018 also asserted the same in the Parliament that it is the duty of States to control the incidents of mob lynching.
Advisories issued by Union Ministry of Home Affairs twice in this regard
• Accordingly, from time to time, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has issued advisories to States and UTs for maintenance of public order and prevention of crime in their areas of jurisdiction.
• An advisory on addressing the issue of lynching by mob on suspicion of child lifting was issued on July 4, 2018. Similarly, an advisory was issued earlier on August 9, 2016 on disturbances by mob in the name of cow protection.
Recent directions of the Supreme Court on the issue of mob violence
The Supreme Court on July 17, 2018 condemned mob lynching incidents across the country and urged the Parliament to enact a new law to deal with the crime that threatens rule of law and the country’s social fabric. The court passed a slew of directions in this regard to deal with the mob lynching. Here are the directions:
• There shall be a "separate offence" for lynching and the trial courts must ordinarily award maximum sentence upon conviction of the accused person to set a stern example in cases of mob violence.
• The state governments will have to designate a senior police officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.
• The state governments need to identify districts, sub-divisions and villages where instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past.
• The nodal officers shall bring to the notice of the DGP about any inter-district co-ordination issues for devising a strategy to tackle lynching and mob violence related issues.
• Every police officer shall ensure to disperse the mob that has a tendency to cause violence in the disguise of vigilantism or otherwise.
• Central and the state governments shall broadcast on radio, television and other media platforms about the serious consequences of mob lynching and mob violence.
• Despite the measures taken by the State Police, if it comes to the notice of the local police that an incident of lynching or mob violence has taken place, the jurisdictional police station shall immediately lodge an FIR.
• The State Governments shall prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation scheme in the light of the provisions of Section 357A of CrPC within one month from the date of this judgment.
• If a police officer or an officer of the district administration fails to fulfill his duty, it will be considered an act of deliberate negligence.
Note: The Union Government respected these recent directions of the Supreme Court and issued an advisory to State Governments urging them to take effective measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.
Limiting of message forwarding to 5 chats in India by WhatsApp to check fake news
• Under pressure to stop rumours and fake news triggering horrific mob lynching incidents, WhatsApp on July 20, 2018 announced to limit forwarding messages to five chats at once.
• The decision came after the Ministry of Electronics & IT had written to Whatsapp to take immediate steps to tackle the menace of misuse of their platform wherein inflammatory messages were circulated that led to unfortunate incidents.
• More than 20 people have been killed by mobs in the past two months across the country after being accused of child kidnapping and other crimes in viral messages circulated on WhatsApp.
What prompted the Government to constitute the committee?
The move comes after a number of mob lynching incidents were reported in several areas, stemming from fake social media rumours of child kidnappers as well as cow vigilantism.
The Union Government's decision to set up the High Level Committee came within days of a mob lynching incident in Rajasthan's Alwar. On July 21, 2018, a group of villagers lynched Rakbar Khan in Alwar district on suspicion of cow smuggling.
Taking a note of the incident, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had sought a report from Rajasthan Government on the incident.
India has been struggling with rising incidents of mob lynching since 2015, when a Muslim man was killed in a village nearby Delhi only on the grounds that he was in possession of beef, thus, leading to cow vigilantism.
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