The letter came in the wake of the recent Supreme Court judgment wherein the Court heavily condemned such “horrendous acts of mobocracy” and issued directions to the State and Central government to undertake preventive, remedial and punitive measures for the same.
The bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan stressed the importance of ‘direct participation in public affairs where individuals and groups are able to express dissent and grievances, expose the flaws in governance and demand accountability’, especially in the Indian context to aid ‘the assertion of the rights of the marginalised and poorly represented minorities’.
Has our approach towards justice stopped taking any other factor into account except the need to immediately replicate the rallying cry of lynch mobs? Just like in the Nirbhaya incident, lynching too has emerged as another dark area representing the failure of governance that Justice Verma had alluded to. We cannot assume that making laws that strike fear will save us all from further collapse.
Given the widespread prevalence of lynching in the country now, it is time to introduce federal crimes, which affect the federation and are not to be described as affecting ‘law and order’ but as crimes that are ‘offences against the Constitution’ and hence for which the Union has to take responsibility.
The CJI bench highlighted the threat posed by ‘frenzied mobs across the country instigated by intolerance and misinformed by circulation of fake news and false stories’, while chastising aggravating phenomena such as ‘bystander apathy, numbness of the mute spectators of the scene of the crime, inertia of the law enforcing machinery to prevent such crimes … and grandstanding of the incident by the perpetrators of the crimes including in the social media’.
The J&K bureaucrat’s resolve to not back down has initiated discourse regarding the Government gagging its employees via draconian laws, the importance of Fundamental Rights, and why Rules such as those in question need to be struck down as they deprive individuals of their civil liberties.
The submissions by Jaising, drafted by Warisha and Shadan Farasat (and team) trace the history of lynching from the time when it was prevalent in the United States as a measure to impose segregation and subordination of African Americans to what’s happening now in India against mainly Muslims and Dalits.