It has been found that during the period from 2010 to 2017, 28 people were killed in 63 lynching incidents. At present there is no law that criminalises mob killings. The IPC has provisions for unlawful assembly, rioting, and murder but nothing that takes the form of a group of people coming together to kill.
The National Campaign Against Mob Lynching (NCAML) is a campaign for a law against mob lynching. It has proposed a draft known as ‘Masuka’, short for Manav Suraksha Kanoon, on the Internet, awaiting suggestions. The draft has the following features:
- It defines the terms ‘lynching’, ‘mob’ and ‘victim’ of mob lynching, for the first time in Indian history.
- It makes lynching a non-bailable offence.
- It criminalises dereliction of duty by a policeman and incitement of people on social media.
- It provides an adequate compensation for the victims and survivors.
- It also guarantees a speedy trial and witness protection.
However, it has a large potential for misuse, for example, the police could use this law to detain a group of labourers planning a dharna on the excuse of them posing a threat to company officials. Hence there is certainly room for improvement in the Masuka.
The Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011, or the Anti-Communal Violence Bill has similar features.
- It fixes command responsibility for communal incidents.
- It recognises that targeted communal violence disproportionately victimises minorities.
- It creates a mechanism to insulate investigations of communal violence from political interference.
Masuka should include these features of the Anti-Communal Violence Bill, if it is supposed to be preserving the rights of minorities and mob victims in the future, followed by ingenious police reforms as a safeguard against political interference.