It is high time India adopts Manav Suraksha Kanoon: Here's why
The rising numbers in the acts of mob lynching is a reason for worry for all citizens in the democracy called India. From the lynching in Dimapur to lynching of Akhlaq, Junaid, Ravinder and Pehlu Khan, India has witnessed several instances of brutal mob violence.
2017 has so far been the worst year for such incidents. As many as 20 cow related terror attacks have been reported in the first six months of the year. However, the crime of 'lynching' does not find a mention in the IPC.
In several cases, the perpetrators walk scot free as there is no particular law that focuses specifically on mob violence, and that's where MaSuKa steps in.
On July 7, the National Campaign Against Mob Lynching, founded by young leaders and activists - Tehseen Poonawalla, Shehla Rashid, Jignesh Mewani and Kanhaiya Kumar released a draft law MaSuKa, which defines 'mob' and 'lynching' and specifies a time period for the trial, makes the State Government responsible for protection of victims and witnesses and also ensures compensation for the victim and kins in case death of the victim.
The Masuka also holds police officials and district magistrates accountable if they fail to curb the occurrence of mob violence in areas under them.
- Every police officer, directly in charge of maintaining law and order in an area shall take all reasonable steps to prevent any act of lynching including its incitement and commission; and to that end notwithstanding anything contained in the Code.
- Whenever the District Magistrate has a reason to believe that in any area within his jurisdiction, a situation has arisen where there is an apprehension of lynching, he may, by order in writing, prohibit any act, which in his opinion is likely to lead to the incitement and commission of an act of lynching.
Police Officer: Whoever commits an act of dereliction of duty by police officer shall be punished in accordance with the Police Act of the respective state. In states where the Police Act does not provide such punishment, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, and with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees.
District Magistrate: Whoever wilfully omits to exercise lawful authority vested in him under this Act and thereby fails to prevent the commission of any act of lynching, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to six months,or with fine, or with both.
The Manav Suraksha Kanoon also speaks in detail about the rights of victims and witnesses during the trial, which so far had not been treated with priority. Case in point, Pehlu Khan was lynched in Rajasthan's Alwar, his family is not being able to fight the case as they are being threatened by local goons and no protection has been extended despite the threats.
Tehseen Poonawalla said, "When a person is lynched, a family suffers," Pehlu Khan's family now struggles to make ends meet. Masuka states, "The State Government through the office of the Chief Secretary shall provide Compensation to victims of lynching within 30 days of the incident."
It further adds, "In no case of death caused due to lynching should the compensation given be less than 25 lakh rupees."
Will the Law be passed? This can only be answered over the time, but for sure the culture of impunity indicates that it's time for the world's largest democracy to get its first such law that deals with mob violence and lynching.