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Author: Priyanshu Mishra, IV year of B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from Shambhunath Institute of Law, Prayagraj


Mob lynching is the act of killing a person without due process of law by a group of people for an alleged crime. In recent years, mob lynching has emerged as one of those hate crimes that target people of specific identities or bring only minority communities or strangers under suspicion. The mob takes law into its own hands to punish the alleged accused in the interest of justice without following any law.

The word lynching is of foreign origin, but it is not alien to India. "Lynching" first originated in the United States in the 19th century in the eighteenth century. Many historians believe that the term was first used by two Americans named Charles Lynch and William Lynch to describe the extra-judicial authority required by private people. Lynching, also known as vigilante violence, refers to hate-motivated violence against minorities. It is an additional punishment to punish the person accused of committing the offence. The Merriam Webster Dictionary describes lynching as follows. "Enacting to death by mob action without legal sanction". It describes lynching as the death of a person through mob action by an angry mob of "people" without recourse to the law.

Mob lynching in India

India has witnessed a considerable and sudden increase in the incidents of mob lynching in the last few years. The basic feature of democracy is to protect the life and liberty of the people, but the right to life and liberty of the people is being violated in India, the world's largest democracy.

In India, one of the first such incidents occurred on 10 June 2012, when activists of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Gaushala Sangh damaged the factory and burnt the homes of its owners, when 25 bodies (Similar to cows) were found their factory and was suspected of killing them.

The causative factors of mob lynching are

  • Intolerance- People are intolerant in accepting acts of law and proceed to punish the person considered immoral.

  • Biases based on various identities like caste, class, religion, etc: -Mob lynching is a hate crime which is increasing due to the prejudices or prejudices of different castes, people and religions.

  • Rise of cow vigilante: This is one of the important reasons that drives the increase in mob lynching activities.

  • Lack of speedy justice: The inefficient work of justice delivery officers is the primary reason why people take the law into their own hands and are not afraid of the consequences.

  • The inefficiency of police administration: Police officers play an important role in protecting the lives of the people and maintaining harmony among the people but due to their ineffective investigation process this hate crime is increasing day by day.

Hence, these are some of the reasons due to which mob lynching has become a threat to the integrity and development of the whole society. In the Poonawalla case[1], in which Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud of the Hon'ble Supreme Court proposed that "the enactment of a special law on mob lynching by the Parliament may be in the form of fear of law and respect for command of the law is the foundation of a civilized society."[2]

More such reasons for mob lynching

The recent rise of mob lynching in India reflects the strangely barbaric behaviours of humans. Mob lynching involves the injury or murder of a person who is a criminal or accused of a crime against the community in the eyes of the mob involved in the lynching. Some of the famous Mob Lynching’s incidents in India are as follows: -

  1. Caste and Religious Driven: Violence in the name of caste and religion in India has deep roots. Presently the increasing cases of mob lynching are mostly a result of intolerance and hatred towards other religion and caste in the name of beliefs, customs, traditions and crows.

  2. Economic and Political Driven: Economy and politics always play a big role in mob lynching. Mob lynching in villages is the easiest way to grab land and property.

  3. Mob Justice: Due to ignorance of legal provisions and consequences of violation of law, less strictness of police and slow process of legal system, people of India try to do justice and do justice themselves by defining their own rules and regulations.

  4. Witch Hunting: Witch-hunting is a historical problem in India which is completely based on mob lynching "Witch-hunting" involves branding a woman as a witch. Witch hunting literally means molesting and killing a woman who is believed to have the power of evil magic. In witch hunting, there is a prima facie involvement of the mob in torturing and killing the victim. The reasons for witch hunting are seen as factors of land grabbing, settlement scores, family rivalry, property, patriarchy, superstition, oppression, subjugation, sexual progress and caste.

Lynching in India mainly due to religious bias related to Cow Vigilantism that saw the most notable number of "vigilance incidents" of dairy cattle since 2012. The volume of incidents increased again in August 2018. Here is a look at the volume of bovine vigilance cases and passing month-wise reports starting from 19 states, Uttar Pradesh has recorded the most notable number of incidents like passing due to brutality incidents. The data below is purely on cases of cow vigilantes, people being killed for eating beef, as it is a sacred animal of Hinduism. The figures below are for religious purposes, with the largest number of deaths being Muslims, the largest number of 'cow eaters' and the killing of Hindus.

Recent Cases of Mob Lynching in India

  1. Khairlanji lynching, 2006 In India, the first reported incident of lynching is the Khairlanji lynching of 2006. In this lynching, all members except the Dalit family were brutally hacked, stripped, paraded in the village by the dominant Kunbi caste and the lone survivor had to fight for justice.

  2. Dimapur lynching, 2015- On 5 March 2015, a mob of about 7000-8000 people entered Dimapur Central Jail and dragged the victim out and thrashed her to death. The victim was accused of committing sexual violence against a woman, and news spread that the accused was a Bangladeshi immigrant. In revenge, the mob thrashed the victim to death.

  3. Jharkhand (Chatra) lynching, 2016- Jharkhand lynching refers to the lynching of two Muslim cattle traders by alleged cow vigilantes in Chatra district of Jharkhand. He was killed on the news that he was smuggling cattle, but the real story was that he had 8 bulls and was going to Chatra Market to sell them. They were beaten to death and hanged from a tree.

  4. Alwar, Rajasthan Lynching, 2017 A dairy farmer named Pehlu Khan, age 55 was thrashed by a cow-protection watchdog mob over alleged reports of cow-smuggling. Khan later died and the police gave clean chit to all the six accused later identified.

  5. Mohammed Akhlaq’s lynching- The heavy-handed headline of the September 28, 2015, lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri, in which a 50-year-old man was lynched for allegedly eating and storing beef. An announcement was made from a nearby temple that he was eating beef. On September 30, 2015, the Uttar Pradesh government had ordered a magisterial inquiry into the matter.

Law and Order on Mob Lynching

I. Legislations

Mob lynching is a violation of human dignity, a gross violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Incidents of mob lynching violate the right to equality and the prohibition of discrimination, which are enshrined in Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India. However, it is not mentioned anywhere in the law of the land. Hence it is kept as murder only as it is not yet covered under the Indian Penal Code. Hon'ble Supreme Court in Poonawalla case[3] called mob lynching 'a dreadful act of mob lynching'.

At present there is no codified law against this horrific act, but it is subject to certain provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860[4] which are as follows: -

  • Section 302 provides for punishment for murder,

  • Section 304 provides for punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. There is a provision which does not amount to murder. There is a provision which does not amount to murder & which does not equate to murder.

  • Section 307 provides for punishment for attempt to murder,

  • Section 323 provides for voluntarily causing hurt,

  • Section 325 provides for punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt.

These above sections should be read along with other provisions of IPC as stated below:-

  • Section 34 defines common intention,

  • Section 120B provides for criminal conspiracy,

  • Section 141 provides for unlawful assembly which is five or more is the assembly of persons,

  • Section 149 states that every member of an unlawful assembly is guilty of an offense committed in the prosecution of the common object,

  • Section 147 specifies rioters and

  • Section 148 defines rioting and provides for punishment, being armed with a weapon is a fatality,


  • Section 223(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973[5] states, "A person accused of the same offense committed within the scope of the same transaction may be tried simultaneously."

These laws are not enough to deal with the cases of mob lynching. In the absence of codified laws, there is lack of speedy justice. No citizen has the right to take law in his own hands.

II. Judicial Approach

Hon'ble Supreme Court in Poonawalla case[6] has condemned this act of vandalism and asked the Parliament to enact a special law to deal with mob lynching which is a threat to the rule of law and the integrity of the country. Until a proper law is made for mob lynching, guidelines have been issued by the Hon'ble Supreme Court to stop mob lynching. These are as follows:

Preventive Measures

  • The Supreme Court has directed the state to appoint a senior police officer and other nodal officers to take measures to prevent incidents of mob lynching.

  • Nodal officers will inform the DGP about any inter-district coordination issues to formulate a strategy to tackle mob lynching.

  • State Governments will identify the places that have witnessed the highest incidence of mob lynching and mob violence in recent years.

  • The Supreme Court has directed the central and state governments to broadcast warnings on television, radio and online platforms that mob violence and mob lynching will have dire consequences.

Remedial Measures

  • Registering FIRs against people spreading fake news and messages, videos and other content on various social media platforms.

  • State governments will prepare a compensation plan to provide interim relief to the victims of lynching within 30 days.

  • Mob lynching cases will be tried in fast-track courts and will be ended within 6 months.

  • To set an example, criminals should be punished severely.

Punitive Measures

  • If the police administration and the district administration fail to comply with the Supreme Court guidelines, it will be treated as willful negligence and appropriate action will be taken against them.

III. Case Laws

Nandini Sundar & others. v. State of Chhattisgarh[7], the Court observed that "it is the duty of the States to make sustained and persistent efforts to promote fraternity among all citizens so as to protect, nurture and promote the dignity of every citizen."[8] Believe that it is the responsibility of the states to prevent such incidents.

Also, in the case of Mohamed Haroon. v. Union of India[9] in which the apex court had given the intelligence agencies of the state to prevent the recurrence of communal violence. It also directed negligent officers who either act negligently or refrain from doing so, resulting in harm to the victims of lynching. This decision was upheld in Arumugal Servai v State of Tamil Nadu[10], the court ruled to take action against officers who did not prevent violence or initiate criminal proceedings against the accused[11].

In the 2015 Krishnamurthy case[12], the Supreme Court held that "law is the most powerful sovereign in a civilized society. The glory of law cannot be assumed merely because an individual or group generates a view that they are empowered by the principles laid down in laws to take its enforcement into one's own hands and gradually become a law unto itself and to punish the violators on their punishment and in the manner they deem fit." Not allowed to take Imagine a shallow sense of your judgment. Just as one has the right to fight for his rights under the law, so the other has the right to be presumed innocent until he is presumed innocent. Found guilty after a fair trial."

Emphasizing the importance of unity in diversity, in St Stephen's College v University of Delhi[13], the Court observed that "the object of our Constitution is unity in diversity and to prevent any disruptive tendency to imbibe unity among Indians diversity. The meaning of diversity shall include geographical, religious, linguistic, racial and cultural differences in its meaning. It is absolutely necessary to underline that India represents social, religious and cultural diversity."

In the present case, the Court highlighted that there is an urgent need for the intervention of the State in protecting the rights of the citizens. On growing intolerance, the top court observed that "A dynamic contemporary constitutional democracy imbibes the essential features of accommodating pluralism in thought and approach so as to maintain harmony and unity." The Supreme Court said that "extra judicial" acts like "cow vigilantism or any other vigil" and lynching should be stopped initially, and guidelines should be passed to the Centre and the states. The court also urged Parliament to enact a special law to deal with the problems of vigilance squads and said till then the guidelines would be governed by law.



There is no codified law for mob violence and lynching, which gives criminals an upper hand to take the law into their own hands and kill an alleged person on mere suspicion. It is not right to kill someone on suspicion. Strict laws to stop mob lynching are the need of the hour for a democratic country like India, which is home to different religions, castes and sections of people. A new law will bring about a change in the legal system and the political mind, which will stop this heinous crime.

Police investigations into many mob attack cases in rural India have found modalities that need to be corrected. Security of life is the most important right for an individual and the state has to protect it. The preventive, remedial and punitive measures prescribed by the Supreme Court should be strictly followed. The role of media, civil societies and NGOs should be increased in a positive direction. Such incidents are a blot on the face of our democracy because India has a democracy but not mobocracy.

[1]Tehseen S. Poonawalla and others v. Union of India, AIR 2018 SC 498 [2]Dr. Pandey J.N., Constitution of India, 359&360 (Central Law Agency, 2019) [3] Tehseen S. Poonawalla and others v. Union of India, AIR 2018 SC 498 [4]Indian Penal Code,1860, No. 45, Acts of Parliament,1860 (India) [5] Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1974 (India) [6] Tehseen S. Poonawalla and others v. Union of India, AIR 2018 SC 498 [7]AIR (2011) 7 SCC 547. [8]Dr. Pandey J.N., Constitution of India,344 (Central Law Agency, 2019) [9]W.P. (C). No.10617/2006 [10]Criminal Appeal No. 959 of 2011 [11]Dr. Pandey J.N., Constitution of India,342 (Central Law Agency, 2019) [12]Krishnamoorthy v. Sivakumar &Ors, Civil Appeal No.1478 Of 2015 [13]AIR 1992 SC 1630


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