New Delhi, Aug 6: Rejecting government argument that existing laws are enough to deal with mob lynching and cow vigilantism, a Rajya Sabha MP has now sought amendments to the penal code to provide stricter punishments for such crimes.
Congress MP from Maharashtra Husain Dalwai has moved a private member's bill -- The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2017 -- last week saying there can be "no culture of state indifference or impunity" in cases where a particular community becomes the target.
Ministry of State for Home Hansraj Ahir on July 19 told Rajya Sabha that there are no plans to amend the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and IPC or bring a new law to deal with mob lynching and cow vigilantism. He said existing laws are sufficient to deal with murder committed by "one person or ten persons".
However, Dalwai disagrees and said there is a need to define hate crimes and vigilantism due to the “alarming rise” in attacks which are motivated by bias or prejudice due to religion, caste, choice of attire or eating. The bill envisages an imprisonment of up to five years for those involved in such crimes and life imprisonment in case there is death.
“Such attacks are either driven by an ideology in which case it takes the shape of a hate crime or it is driven by an urge to take the law into their own hands and punish the victims on mere suspicion of an offence have been committed,” the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill said.
It said hate crimes, as well as vigilantism, are treated as offences in many countries, attracting even stricter punishment than ordinary crimes because they "tend to offend public tranquillity, create a feeling of disharmony and undermine the faith of people" in law and justice machinery.
"There can be no culture of state indifference or impunity in such cases as they speak of a larger malaise rather than one-off and disconcerted incidents," it said.
The Opposition parties have raised pitch over cow vigilantism in both Houses of Parliament in the ongoing Monsoon session, accusing the BJP-led government of encouraging organisations behind the violence by cow vigilantes.
A series of incidents involving cow vigilantes had rocked the country in the past couple of years with opposition leaders saying there were at least 50 such incidents in the recent past.
On its part, the BJP said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly come out strongly against such acts.