This article is written by Preeti Birla. She is an intern at Legal Thirst.
In this article, I would be focussing on the Law Related to Jungle Justice in India. In today’s time, the Jungle Justice in India has become a common part. The major reason for jungle justice in India is Caste, Religion, and Political hands also. However, the victims have the protection of Human Rights and Constitutional rights to get justice. There is no national law made on Jungle Justice. Jungle justice is not defined in IPC, CRPC, nor defined in the Constitution. But it is possible under Section 223(a) of the CRPC to prosecute together two or more accused people for the same offences committed in the course of the “same transaction”. But the provision falls the short of an adequate legal framework for prosecuting lynch mobs. So, there is needed to make the bills introduced by the Member of Parliament as well as the Supreme Court also to stop such violence. This paper will be leading with a study on various cases identifying lynchings all over India.
Keywords: jungle Justice, lynching, mob, vigilante, India
The prevalence of jungle justice is also known as vigilante justice in developing and developed countries, the act of a group of people usually a mob taking laws into their own hands by beating an alleged criminal to the point of death or even to death without following due process, this arbitrary method of counter aggression sums up the core of jungle justice. This dehumanizing and degrading act requires urgent intervention because it not only negates the maintenance of societal law and order, but abuses the notion of the right to a free and fair trial, and largely infringes upon the fundamental human rights of the accused perpetrators. The term ‘vigilance’ according to the Cambridge dictionary, refers to law enforcement carried out by a self-appointed group of people without any legal authority. People who want to enforce legal authority without any legal grounds are the ones who commit lynchings.
According to an India spend analysis; the number of incidences of mob lynching is increasing every year. And mainly this violence is strictly inflicted upon Muslim accused in the matter related to Love jihad or inter-caste marriage or lynching against Dalit, lynching related to child lifting suspicions. These crimes take place when people get encouraged by hatred and anger and get ready to take law into their own hands. This violence is named hate crime based on the hate of people towards a particular community, religion, region, caste, sex, etc. It is very crucial to think that why people suddenly consider a person harmful to the whole society and take such a drastic decision of killing him or her.
Lynching is an unlawful murder by the mindless and morally corrupt mob. Jungle justice is not a new phenomenon in India, during the 1857 revolt mobs attacked British Civilians, in the 1947 partitions mobs attacked families, and individuals in villages, and cities.
In India, states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh have the largest number of cow-related mob attacks. Mob lynching has been a crime with a latent threat looming over people’s heads. The majority fears the minority, and the minority fears the majority, creating a cycle of fear that leads to the crime of mob lynching.
India does not have a specific law to deal with Jungle Justice. The Indian Penal Code does not define the word lynching and Jungle Justice. However, Section 223(a) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 contains the relevant provision for persons being charged jointly for the same offense committed in the course of the same transaction that is applicable to two or more people. Those who are lynched are treated inhumanely. They are frequently beaten, chained, and hanged, resulting in serious injury or death. Somehow this provision has not helped in delivering justice in case of lynching.
Concept of Jungle justice or mob justice or lynching
Jungle justice is a form of public extrajudicial killings which can be found in Nigeria and Cameroon, where an alleged criminal is publicly humiliated, beaten, and summarily executed by vigilantes or an angry mob. In simple words, jungle justice or mob justice can be defined as the act of killing or taking one’s life illegally that is without a proper justice system. Jungle justice is when a crowd or individual humiliates, molests, beats punishes or executes criminals in front of people without the backing of legal law or power. This act can be carried out in multiple or different ways. Such ways include hanging, burning the individual with a tire, or beating the individual to his own death. This form of street justice occurs when a dysfunctional and corrupt judiciary system and law enforcement have lost all credibility. Mob Lynching is the best example of Jungle Justice. Mob-lynching is one of those horrific crimes in which a person is targeted by a group of people, and the violence is equivalent to crimes against the human body or property, both public and private. It is a violent act in which a gang of people, acting together, target and illegally kill a person. The Supreme Court of India has referred to these mobs’ horrific acts of Mobocracy as “Horrendous acts of Mobocracy.”
The effect of jungle justice is inhuman and barbaric but the harmful effect of criminal elements on innocent citizens in recent times has led to the rise in the execution of jungle justice. Innocent citizen on daily basis are been subjected to criminal attacks which has led to the loss of many lives and properties. If cases of jungle justice are not addressed on time, innocent citizens might one day be victims due to false allegations by detractors. Section 33 of the 1999 constitution as amended gives every person the right of life; no one has the right to deprive another of life in the name of administering justice. Section 36(5) of the 1999 constitution as amended says that every person is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.
A person’s right to life, as defined by Article 21 of the Indian constitution, is also jeopardized. This is the most recent addition to the list of offenses.
This can even be classified as one of the worst types of crime because one person infringes on the rights of another in order to satisfy their own selfish motives. Because there is no legal authority, it is frequently referred to as vigilante justice. The concept of compassion and justice is completely violated by such brutal violence and uncontrolled mob behaviour.
When such traumatic situations occur, not only a single person is impacted, but the entire society is forced to deal with the effects.
The term ‘lynch’ refers to a self-made court that punishes a person without giving them a chance to defend themselves; such actions are based on religious prejudice or rumours, and the cause for this is a mentality clash between different communities.
Every act of criminality alters the core of justice in society. These are also known as extrajudicial punishments, in which the victim is assumed to be the perpetrator by the general public.
When viewed from a broader perspective, mob lynching is a result of the terror that has been instilled in the minds of the people.
Jungle justice is when the population or mob takes upon themselves the responsibility of inflicting a penalty on an alleged offender/criminal without proving him guilty of the offence. In other words, it is a situation where the masses take upon themselves to render judgement on a matter without hearing, or without giving the accused the right of defence. This is ‘justice’ without trial. This act is frequent with cases of aggravated theft. Here, persons most often presumed to the bandits are lynched by the masses on grounds of alleged armed robbery. This usually takes place after a public alarm is raised, followed by mass mobilisation, and concluded by beating and lynching.
History of Jungle Justice in India
Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, white people often used violence as a means to control African Americans.
For Example, lynching was a popular way of punishing Native Americans who were believed to be committing crimes. Lynching is an informal punishment that is committed by a non-statutory authority to do so. In many cases, censorship occurs when a group believes someone has committed a crime, even though they have not been tried or been convicted. The economic outrage and efforts to prevent black people from participating in the political process have also been a factor in the lynching. Examples of lynching include public hangings, wing bends, or other forms of excessive punishment or public execution.
Lynching is different from the other forms of punishment because it is done by a community outside the legal system and is usually done by a group of people, rather than ordered by a judge or law enforcement officer. Lynching is a form of mob crime, where ordinary people gather to intimidate or punish someone, who has violated a legal, moral, or social standard. Although the origin of the ‘lynching’ is unclear, it is reported that a Virginia court judge of the late 18th century, was known to regularly imprison British loyalists. Because they have never been charged and had no authority to imprison them, the practice is known as ‘lynching’.
Incidents of jungle justice and mob Lynching in India
In India, lynching may reflect internal tensions between different communities in India are the main reason of mob lynching. Communities sometimes lynch individuals who are accused or suspected of committing crimes. Sociologists and social scientists reject attributing racial discrimination to the caste system and attributed such events to intra-racial ethno-cultural conflicts. There have been numerous lynchings in relation to cow vigilante violence in India since 2014, mainly involving Hindu mobs lynching, Muslims and Dalits.
Some notable examples of such attacks are:-
In the village of Kherlanji in the Bhandara region of Maharashtra,
Four Dalit Families were assaulted and massacred by a few members of the Kunbi Caste in 2006.
Thisincident occurred as a result of communal violence, and it is thought that it was caused by a fight between the upper and lower castes. According to reports, the Dalit family refused to give up their land for the construction of a road that would benefit the upper caste, and as a result, they were murdered. Female Dalit family members were compelled to take off their garments. We don’t have particular rules in India to prevent mob lynching, however Section 223(a) of the criminal procedure code of 1973 states that if the same allegations are brought against multiple people, then they all can be held jointly liable for the crime.
2006 Bhiwandi mob Lynching–
It is a lynching case in which two police constables from the Bhiwandi region of Maharashtra’s Thane district were slain by a mob made up largely of Muslims. It was interpreted as retaliation for the police killing of two Muslim males. The killing of Muslim males boiled the people’s blood to the point where they stabbed both constables to death.
2015 Dimapur Mob Lynching
On March 5, 2015, in Dimapur, Nagaland, a crowd of 8000 to 9000 people stormed the Dimapur central jail and attacked one of the inmates who had been charged with rape in one of the rape cases.
The enraged mob compelled him to strip naked in response to the rising number of rape and sexual harassment charges in the area. Farid Khan and three of his buddies assaulted and intoxicated a twenty-year-old Shri Digambar Jain Girls College student on February 23, 2015, and afterward raped her multiple times. They even offered her a payment to be quiet.
An FIR was filed against all of them on February 25th under sections 476, 363, and 344 of the Indian Penal Code. During the trial, they all said it was consenting intercourse because money was exchanged for the same thing. The enraged mob lost control and showered all of the accused with stones, dragging him for almost 7 kilometers before killing him on the way to the clock tower. His body was then displayed on the clock tower so that no one would dare to do it against a girl in the future.
Police had to use tear gas and blanks to keep the mob under control. During the attack, 52 police officers were injured, and ten of their vehicles were set on fire. The mob believed that the state’s justice system was broken and that instant action was required.
2015 Dadri Mob Lynching
It is a case in which residents from Bisara village, near Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, attacked Mohammed Akhlaq, a fifty-two-year-old man, on suspicion of slaughtering a cow. Residents of Bisara village assaulted Mohammad Akhlaq on the fateful night of September 28, 2015, because they suspected him of stealing and butchering cows. Bricks and knives were thrown at him. He was unable to bear those bodily injuries as a result of this violent deed, and he died; his twenty-year-old son Danish was also severely injured.
When the case was brought before the court, they stated that, first and foremost, the evidence of the meat could indicate whether the meat was meat or beef, and that the meat was assured to be cow meat in the forensic lab.
However, in this case, the court found Mohammad Akhlaq not guilty because the beef was not fit for human consumption. Following the lynching, there were political reactions from all throughout the country. As a result, the family received monetary compensation.
2016 Jharkhand Mob lynching
Two Muslim cattle traders, Ansari, 32, and Imtiaz Khan, 12, both of Jharkhand, were hung from a tree in 2016 because a crowd claimed they were murdering livestock.
According to the villagers, the point of contention here was that there was some community animosity in the area about beef consumption. As per the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, this incident raises serious questions about humanity. The defendants were taken to trial by the Jharkhand police after a few days.
2019 Palghar Mob lynching
The recent Palghar mob lynching case, in which two Juna Akhara Hindu sadhus and their driver were beaten in Maharashtra’s Palghar district in 2020 because all three of them were mistaken for kid thieves after rumours circulated over WhatsApp that several criminals were roaming the locality.
When the police intervened and tried to prevent them from taking the law into their own hands, they were beaten up by the mob as well. The Maharashtra administration got widespread condemnation and backlash as a result of this.
115 villagers were later detained on criminal charges, but they all claimed to be innocent, claiming that they mistook the sadhus and drivers for kidnappers and organ harvesting gangs. The fact that the vehicle arrived at night only added to their suspicions that they were kidnappers.
Given the seriousness of the crime, India’s National Human Rights Commission requested that the Mumbai police chief provide detailed data on what action was done against the perpetrators and how much compensation was awarded to the victim’s family.
Reasons for Jungle Justice Crimes
- There are insufficient laws in the Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code to deal with this major problem.
- Laws protecting minorities and persons from lower castes are not sufficiently applied.
- Police officers are subjected to a great deal of political pressure.
- Intolerance against a particular group is growing by the day, and misinformation is spreading as a result of people’s growing anger.
- With the rising unemployment rate, youth are easily misled by political and religious forces.
- Another reason that these mob lynching events are documented is that there is a bias against a particular class.
- Personal animosity between various groups.
- One of the factors that encourage people to choose this manner of dispensing justice is the low conviction rate.
- Fake news is widely spread on social media, which in turn encourages the masses.
- Social tensions such as class, caste, and religious conflict are deeply rooted in the minds of Indian citizens, and it is for this reason that the marginalized are driven into a never-ending cycle of injustice.
Impact of Mob-Lynching on the Society
a). This act of people taking the law into their own hands due to a lack of understanding of the justice system poses a severe danger to the Rule of Law and Natural Justice concepts.
b). such activities have also posed a major threat to the country’s minority populations, and adequate measures must be made to prevent and deter such crimes.
c). Furthermore, vigilantes with some political affiliations to right-wing groups have perpetrated acts of violence, believing themselves to be politically proper while doing so.
d). People taking justice into their own hands in a country like India is unacceptable, because inhabitants of the country have been awarded many fundamental rights, and such lynching cases are an affront to their right to life, right to a fair trial, and so on.
e). India is a secular country, thus it’s critical to ensure that minorities’ rights are maintained and that the majority does not oppress them.
- The Indian WhatsApp lynching is a spate of mob-related violence and killings following the spread of rumors, primarily relating to child abduction and organ harvesting, via the WhatsApp message service. The spate of lynching commenced in May 2017 with the killing of seven men in Jharkhand but did not become a matter of national attention until the beginning of the following year. Fake messages customized with locally specific details are circulated along with real videos attached to fake messages or claims. In almost all of the lynching locations, no child abductions had been recorded in the previous three months. The majority of the attacks have occurred deep within the interior regions of villages. The lynch mobs included men, women, and children. In some cases the mobs were composed largely of illiterate or poorly educated men that were unemployed or working as day labourers as well as being under the influence of alcohol at the time of the attack. In at least some of the cases prime instigators have used child-abduction fears to stir up the violence and settle old scores.
- On 16 April 2020, a vigilante group lynched two Hindu Sadhus and their drivers in Gadchinchale Village, Palghar District, and Maharashtra, India. The incident was fuelled by WhatsApp rumours, about thieves operating in the area, during the nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The vigilante group of villagers had mistaken the three passengers as thieves and killed them. The policemen who intervened were also attacked, with four policemen and a senior police officer getting injured.
- As of 20 April, 101 villagers have been arrested by the Maharashtra police on charges of murder of the three men and an investigation is ongoing. After the incident, rumors were spread to stoke religious tension.
- On 22 April, Maharashtra Home Minister, Anil Deshmukh posted a complete list of people arrested and said that none of the people arrested were Muslims. The government said that both the attackers and the victims were of same religion.
- The 2018 Karbi Anglong lynching occurred when two men who were visiting the Kangthilang so waterfall to search for ornamental fish stopped their vehicle to ask villagers for directions. A mob of inebriated villagers suspected them to be child abductors and attacked them with machetes, bamboo poles, and wood. The two men succumbed to their injuries before they could be taken to hospital. A video was circulated of the two men covered in blood and begging for mercy. There is a number of incidents of violence have occurred.
- According to a June 2017 Reuters report, citing a data journalism website, a total of “28 Indians – 24 of them Muslims – have been killed and 124 injured since 2010 in cow-related violence” The frequency and severity of cow-related violence have been described as “unprecedented”. The report stated that “Almost all of the 63 attacks since 2010 involving cow-related violence were recorded after Modi and his Hindu nationalist government came to power in 2014
Jungle justice is a direct infringement of human rights and violates every aspect of the Geneva Convention and it must be stated any form of the mob- justice in any country is a direct infringement on the rule of law of that country and strikes at the root of dealing with crime and criminalization of any offence.
- In the case of Nandini Sundar and others v, State of Chhattisgarh
In this case, the Supreme Court held that it is “the duty of the country to strive, consistently, to promote the well-being of all citizens so that the dignity of all citizens is protected, nourished, and encouraged.
- In the case of Mohd. Haroon and others v. Union of India and another, in this case, Court held that the “the responsibility of the Co-operative Governance Office and state intelligence agencies and the institution to prevent duplication of public violence in any part of the country. If any law enforcement officer is found to be negligent, it should be brought within the law”.
- In the judgment of the Landmark Case, named, Tehseen S Poonawala and Others v. Union of India on July 17, 2018, which includes a three-judge bench of Chief Justice Deepak Mishra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud of the High Court suggested that the enactment of a special expulsion law by Parliament could take place as “fear of the law and respect for the rule of law constituted the basis of civilized society”. The current complaint is listed under Section 32 of the Constitution to take immediate and necessary action against violent animal protection groups. While explaining the importance of constitutional and legal security, in all the courts, he pointed to the case of Krishnamurthy.
- In the 2015 Krishnamurthy case, The Supreme Court held that “the law is the highest rule in a civilized society. They feel they deserve it.” The court noted that no person is allowed to take the law into their own hands in regard to his shallow judgmental spirit. Just as one has the right to fight for his legal rights, another has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty after a fair trial.
Punishments of Mob Lynching
There is no codified law or legal provision in our country dealing specifically with lynching or mob attacks. However, the punishment for mob lynching is provided under the ambit of the following laws currently under the Indian Penal Code:
- Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code– This particular section in the IPC deals with punishments related to murder. It stated that whoever commits murder is punished either with imprisonment for life or with punishment for death. In many cases, the convict may even be liable to be penalized.
- Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code– Section 304 of IPC talks about punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The punishment can be as follows:
- -Life Imprisonment
- The person can be punished with 10 years of imprisonment and a requisite fine can also be imposed on him for the crime committed or may cause the injury that can likely cause the death of a person.
- Section 325 of the Indian Penal Code– This particular section defines punishment for causing grievous hurt to a person voluntarily. Under the provision of this section, if a person, except in case of provocation (as provided for by section 335), voluntarily causing grievous hurt, is likely to be punished with imprisonment of either for a term of up to seven years and also payment of fine.
- Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code– This section states the punishment regarding the acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention. It states that when a criminal act is done by several persons in regard to a common intention, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.
- Section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code– This section defines the punishment regarding parties who are participating in a criminal conspiracy together. It states that:
- -Conspiracy when done for an offence which is punishable with life imprisonment or death or with punishment for imprisonment for 2 years or more, the offender is to be punished in the same manner as in case of abetment while committing the offence.
- -In the case of conspiracy for an offence that is not punishable with death, life imprisonment or imprisonment for 2 years or above, the offender is liable to be punished with imprisonment for up to six months or maybe with a fine or both.
There are several reforms that need to be taken into consideration with respect to mob lynching cases in India and worldwide. The administration in India needs to take steps to ensure speedier justice.
For example– Firstly, Registering FIR without any delay, quashing the cases which may add further victimization upon the weak and poor, and quashing the bail applications as it may pose a serious threat to the victims and their families because of the attached hate crime.
Moreover, a mechanism should be set up to determine the quantum of compensation to be paid to the victims or their families for the loss suffered by them and also for better access to justice, schemes such as free legal aid should be made part of the system.
Further, to ensure that justice has been delivered to the victims of mob violence, the government should take appropriate steps to pass law demanded by Civil Society, Manav Suraksha Kanoon (MaSuka) which provides that stringent laws should be made for mob violence, and also laws related to mob lynching must be non-bailable, cognizable and non-compoundable and also invite life imprisonment along with a time-bound trial of the culprit.
Moreover, compensation to the families of victims and the police action must be considered to ensure the protection of the witnesses. Just like the SC/ST (Prevention from atrocities) Act, 1989, and The Protection of Women and Domestic Violence Act, 2005 are meant for the protection of the group and securing ends of Justice, similarly, MaSuka must do the same for the victims of mob lynching.
The parliament can also play an important role in enhancing the laws related to mob lynching. The parliament should act in accordance with the guidelines specified by the Supreme Court, and accordingly draft and pass a new law to deal with cases related to mob violence which would aim to provide maximum punishment to the lynchers along with the officials who are directly or indirectly part of the mob lynching instances. Further, the new law must define the term ‘mob lynching’ which is not defined is any of the current statutes.
- Ensure that cases of mob violence are investigated and prosecuted quickly and fairly.
- Ensure that police misconduct is held accountable.
- Determine who will be in charge of supervising the police.
- Families of Victims of Violence should be protected.
- Demand that the Indian government safeguards religious and other minorities and that all acts of communal violence be investigated and prosecuted promptly.
- Demand that the Indian government safeguards religious and other minorities and that all acts of communal violence be investigated and prosecuted promptly.
- Support initiatives led by the government and civic society to gather systematic data on communal crimes per international human rights norms.
- Current counterterrorism training and assistance programmes support specialist police training on human rights.
- Increase financial support for Indian civil society organisations that monitor human rights and provide direct help to victims of communal violence.
- The Supreme Court suggests enacting laws to prevent discrimination or violence based on religion or ethnic identity, with explicit directions on implementing it.
- Enact a witness protection statute to safeguard victims and witnesses from intimidation, threats, and harassment. The legislation should require the federal and state governments to support witness protection programs appropriately.
- Ensure that any current or proposed rules or regulations restricting the cattle trade align with the right to a livelihood.
- Form an expert committee comprised of agriculturists, civil society organizations, and farmers to study and provide recommendations on current laws and regulations governing cattle trading and protection.
- Put in place protections to prevent private parties and non-state actors from participating in law enforcement actions, including those carried out by cow protection groups.
- Implement Supreme Court orders aimed at reducing community violence and holding those culpable for mob assaults accountable;
- Ensure a timely and impartial investigation and punishment of those who perpetrate or instigate communal assaults, as well as a probe into alleged police inactivity in the face of vigilante violence; and
- Public remarks and actions by top state and high-ranking police officials clearly and firmly convey that all perpetrators of mob violence, including those with political ties, will face full prosecution.
Jungle justice is a violation of human rights and should be condemned globally and not just an African problem alone. There is no defined legislation governing mob violence and lynching, criminals have an advantage in taking the law into their own hands and killing an alleged person based on mere suspicion. Killing someone on suspicion is completely unjustified. Strict regulations to prevent mob lynching are urgently needed in a democratic country like India, which is home to people of all faiths, castes, and social strata. New legislation will cause a shift in the judicial system and political mindset, resulting in the abolition of this horrible crime.
Mob lynching may happen because of various reasons. Witch-hunting was one of the reasons for mob violence, where 2000 mentally challenged women were lynched for rumors that put an allegation upon them of stealing and murdering children. In India cases like communal conflagrations such as in 1984 Sikh riots, Anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in India, or the Lynching case of Ghulam Muhammad by Hindu YuvaMahaini just because of his relationship with a Hindu girl in the neighborhood which has impacted this country in a miserable manner. In order to overcome such instances, awareness must be created among people who take responsibility to enforce the laws themselves and violate other people’s rights because of a shallow understanding of Justice.
In today’s scenario, the instances of Lynching and vigilante attacks have become an instrument of choice for violence against minorities, especially persons belonging to minority communities like Muslims. Both Vigilante attacks and lynchings are different from ‘communal riots’. These are episodes of acts of mob violence mostly by people who assume the authority of the state due to a shallow understanding of Justice. It has been said that lynching has taken place regularly, which has amounted to the “national epidemic”.
As a result of such a case, the people of India are learning to endure justice with an intense sense of foreboding which has amounted to-a lurking, unnamed, unspoken fear. Due to its extreme nature, it has led to fear in the minds of people of being attacked by mobs and also being vulnerable in the situation
India has unfortunately witnessed the numerous mob lynching and mob violence cases reported from various parts of the country. Most of the cases were in consequence of the reaction to the beef-ban orders of the government in the country. It can be interpreted that all lynching activities based on identity discriminate against the whole community which violates Article 14 and Article 15 of the Indian Constitution. The present situation of mob attacks in the country is miserable and there is a need for separate legislation to be enacted in order to protect the victims of mob violence and also to implement strict procedures to curb the attacks and punish the wrongdoers involved in the mob violence.
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