What Should A Strong Lynching Law Cover? Tharoor And Tulsi Weigh In
Following the Supreme Court’s judgment on lynchings in the country, the Centre has set up a ministerial committee headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh to consider the apex court’s recommendation to bring a new law against lynchings.
But what should such a law include? What can it do to prevent lynchings? And how can this avoid becoming a cosmetic change that fails to achieve its target?
MPs Shashi Tharoor and KTS Tulsi have drafted a Protection From Lynching Bill, which they are submitting to the ministerial committee, which offers some suggestions for how the government can approach these questions.
Does Anything Set These Suggestions Apart?
The Bill was drafted by Tharoor and Tulsi in 2017, with a focus similar to other proposals such as the Manav Suraksha Kanoon drafted by lawyers and activists last year. This includes a focus on ensuring that the police and local administration do more to stop such incidents, and also ensure compensation and protection of victims.
Victims’ Rights and Protection of Witnesses
Distinct Feature - Offence of Creating Hostile Environment
One thing which does set the Bill apart is the distinct offence of ‘creating a hostile environment’.
The provision looks to protect victims of lynching and/or their family members, who are often subjected to hostile socio-economic conditions, including boycotts, exclusion from services, threats and forcing them to leave their homes. It also punishes any other actions which contribute to creating an “intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.”
The reason why this provision is distinct is because it might be able to help take action against politicians whose actions help normalise lynchings, and make it appear as though the lynchers were justified in doing what they did – such as Jayant Sinha.