Bills passed against mob lynching in the past four years by at least three States ruled by BJP rivals and one governed by the party itself have not been implemented with the Union government taking a view that lynching is not defined as a crime under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The Union Home Ministry informed Parliament in 2019 that there was “no separate” definition for lynching under the IPC, adding that lynching incidents could be dealt with under Sections 300 and 302 of the IPC, pertaining to murder.
In 2017, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) collected data on mob lynching, hate crimes and cow vigilantism but it was not published and discontinued as these crimes are not defined and the data were found to be unreliable.
On December 22, the Jharkhand Assembly passed the Prevention of Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Bill, 2021, providing for punishment from three years to life imprisonment. The Bill awaits the Governor’s nod.
On August 5, 2019, the Rajasthan Assembly passed the Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill, 2019, providing for life imprisonment and a fine from ₹1 lakh to ₹5 lakh to those convicted in cases of mob lynching leading to the victim’s death.
On August 30, 2019, the West Bengal Assembly passed a legislation- the West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019 that proposes a jail term from three years to life for those involved in assaulting and injuring a person and also defines terms such as “lynching” and “mob.” The government also proposed the West Bengal Lynching Compensation Scheme.
In response to a Right to Information Act (RTI) application by The Hindu, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) stated that the said legislation was received from the Rajasthan government on September 6, 2019. It added that the bill was “under inter-ministerial consultation with State Government/Union Ministries/ Departments.”
The MHA’s reply stated, “However, the bill ie: The West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019’ has not been received from West Bengal Government.”
In 2018, the Manipur Assembly passed the The Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Bill, recommending life imprisonment for those involved in mob violence if it led to death. The bill is still being examined by the Ministry.
The Ministry examines the State legislations on three grounds---repugnancy with Central laws, deviation from national or central policy and legal and constitutional validity.
In 2019, the MHA informed the Lok Sabha that it had received the bills passed by the State legislatures of Manipur and Rajasthan that have been reserved by the Governor for consideration of the President.
The President has to go with the advice given by the Council of Ministers, in the case of such legislations, represented by the MHA.
In 2018, the Supreme Court asked Parliament to make lynching a separate offence. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had informed Parliament that the government has decided to overhaul the IPC framed in 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and mob-lynching would also be examined by the committee. The suggestions received by the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws would be examined by the Ministry before the changes are adopted.