Secretaries' panel submits report on separate law for lynchings

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New Delhi : A committee of secretaries, formed to deliberate and make recommendations for a separate law to deal with the incidents of lynching, has submitted its report to Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, officials said on Wednesday.

The panel headed by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba consulted a cross-section of society and other stakeholders before submitting the report to the GoM, a Home Ministry official requesting anonymity said.

The GoM, which includes External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot, will examine the recommendations and submit its report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The committee was formed by the government post a Supreme Court verdict in mid-July to examine ways to crack down on rising incidents of lynchings and mob violence across the country. The apex court had said it is the "responsibility of the government to protect the citizens".

The apex court had asked the government to examine bringing out a separate law to crack down on such offences so that it can instil a sense of fear in the perpetrators.

The details of the report have not been made public since the GoM is yet to consider it, the official said, adding the panel has explored the possibility of treating lynchings as a separate offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or making a separate law for the same.

In separate discussions with the Home Ministry earlier this week, the Law Ministry had examined the matter and felt that treating the offence under a separate section in the IPC, which would define mob lynching, could be an immediate step to begin with.

"A final decision on the new law will be taken at the level of the Prime Minister once the GoM forwards its suggestions to him," the official said.

The panel, which includes secretaries of the departments of Justice, Legal Affairs, and Social Justice and Empowerment as its members, was formed by the Union Home Ministry in the wake of lynchings that claimed over 35 lives in nine states in the past one year.

In July, the Home Ministry issued advisories to states and Union territories following the Supreme Court's directive to check incidents of lynching.

The Centre asked the states to appoint an officer in each district at the level of Superintendent of Police, set up a special task force to gather intelligence, and closely monitor social media contents to prevent mob attacks on suspicion of being child-lifters or cattle smugglers.