India's top court demands new law to stop lynching

Indian Supreme Court has ordered the government to enact a new law and stem lynchings

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Parliament to consider enacting a separate law to effectively deal with lynching, saying "horrendous acts of mobocracy" can not be allowed to become a new norm.

"Rising intolerance and growing polarisation expressed through spate of incidents of mob violence can not be permitted to become the normal way of life or the normal state of law and order in the country", the court said.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud, while reserving their order, had reminded the central and state governments of their responsibility to curb violence by vigilante groups. They said the menace needs to be "curbed with iron hands", the news agency reported.

The apex court order will be pertaining not only to cow vigilante violence but regarding violence perpetrated by all vigilante groups.

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In the petition, Poonawalla had cited numerous instances of attacks by cow protection groups on Dalits, minorities and other people in the "name of protection of cow and other bovine species". Last month, two Muslims were lynched in eastern Jharkhand state on charges of cattle theft. According to a report published by the data journalism portal, India Spend, as many of 97% of bovine attacks were reported after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government came to power in May 2014. Cows are considered sacred by many members of India's Hindu majority, and slaughtering cows or eating beef is illegal or restricted across much of the country.

A 32-year-old call centre employee was killed in Karnataka at the weekend after rumours spread that he was a child-kidnapper, the latest in a series of assaults triggered by false messages on social media about kidnappers. The victims were non-locals, mostly targeted because they looked different or didn't speak the local language.

Tehseen Poonawalla, one of the petitioners, stated that the court had said the states have a duty to ensure inclusive social order and that mobocracy can not be allowed.

The bench has now posted the PIL filed by persons like Tushar Gandhi and Tehseen Poonawalla for further hearing on August 28 and asked the Centre and state governments to take steps to deal with such offences in pursuance of its directions. It also directed that the victims' families be given free legal aid. "The State can not turn a deaf ear to the growing rumblings of its people", the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.

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