Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration to condemn the lynching and murder. Photo: AFP/Inranil Mukerjee

The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday asked the government to draft legislation to curb the growing incidents of lynchings and mob violence in the country.

The top court condemned the violence against minority communities, which it termed “horrendous acts of mobocracy.” The three-judge bench was led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and said it was the obligation of the state to protect its citizens and ensure the “pluralistic social fabric” of the country holds against mob violence.

Senior advocate Indira Jaisingh, who appeared on behalf of petitioner-activist Tehseen Poonawalla, argued: “Despite your order to states to appoint nodal officers to prevent such incidents, there was a lynching and death just 60 kilometers away from Delhi just recently.”

Condemning the lynchings, Jaisingh added: “The incidents of lynchings go beyond the description of law and order and these crimes have a pattern and a motive. For instance, all these instances happen on highways. This court had asked the states to patrol the highways.”

He said the lynchings were a violation of Article 15 of the constitution which protects citizens from discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, sex, gender, etc.

The judges asked the parliament to draft a provision establishing lynching as a separate offense with a strong punishment to deter offenders. They said the frequent incidents of lynchings were shocking in a society based on the rule of law.

“It is the obligation of the centre and the states to ensure that nobody takes the law into his hands nor become a law unto himself,” the court said.

Several measures were suggested by the court to the government to curb lynching and mob violence, and the court asked for a compliance report within four weeks.

Meanwhile Tehseen Poonawalla, a relative of Raul Gandhi and a Congress supporter, said an anti-lynching draft bill proposed by the National Campaign Against Mob Lynching will be presented to the political parties.

The draft bill proposes providing protection to vulnerable groups and individuals, to punish those involved in lynchings and rehabilitate and compensate the victims. The bill was drafted by a committee headed by senior Supreme Court lawyers.

The Supreme Court will hear the matter on August 28.

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