Anti-lynching Bill passed in Rajasthan Assembly

Rajasthan  Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. (PTI Photo)

The Rajasthan Assembly on Monday passed a bill providing for life imprisonment and a fine up to Rs 5 lakh to convicts in cases of mob lynching involving the victim’s death. Rajasthan became the second Congress-ruled state after Madhya Pradesh to make a law against mob lynching.

The Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill, 2019 was tabled in the assembly on July 30 by law minister Shanti Dhariwal and came up for discussion on Monday.

The Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill-2019 aims at prevention and protection by appointing special judges for speedy trials of a victim's family. In case if the victim dies, as per the bill the guilty will be sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of rupees five lakh will also be imposed. However if the victim suffers injuries, the convict will have to serve seven years of jail and fine of rupees one lakh. However, if the injury is serious in that case guilty will have to serve ten years of imprisonment and fine of rupees 2.5 lakh.

The bill also gives special powers to district collectors and Superintendent of police to act as state coordinators in case any mishap happens. "It is proposed to nip the evil in the bud and to prevent spreading of hatred or incitement to mob lynching by creating special offences against such mob lynching in addition to other offences under the Indian Penal Code," the statement of the bill said. The statement of objects and reasons for the lynching bill mentioned the recommendation of the Supreme Court to enact legislation against the mob lynching. 

However, the new law was opposed by the BJP. The BJP spokesperson Pankaj Meena said "The Bill has been brought just to appease one community", Meena said. Besides opposition, the Bill has been criticised by social groups who held the government responsible for not consulting the public (stakeholders) before drafting the bill. "The draft bill should have been put on the internet so that it is accessible for everyone. But Home Department of Rajasthan Government did not put the draft of the bill, in front of the public, neither on any website nor put it for any consultation", Kavita Srivastava of Public Union for Civil Liberties told DH.

Rajasthan had witnessed three high profile lynching cases in last BJP tenure. In all three cases which are under trial, the three dairy farmers Pehlu Khan, Rakbar Khan and Ummar Mohammad were allegedly lynched by cow vigilantes on suspicion of cow smuggling in separate incidents.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had announced enactment of laws against honour killing and mob lynching while replying to a debate on the state budget on July 16.

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