Protection from Mob Violence Act (Manipur State)

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    24th Jan, 2019

Context

Manipur became the first state to pass a remarkable law against lynching or Protection from Mob Violence Act.

About

Main features of the Act:

Definition

  • Its definition of lynching is comprehensive, covering many forms of hate crimes. These are “any act or series of acts of violence or aiding, abetting such act/acts thereof, whether spontaneous or planned, by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity or any other related grounds .…”
  • It requires that hate crimes are undertaken by mobs (defined as a group of two or more individuals, assembled with a common intention of lynching).

Duty of the state

  • It clearly lays down the duty and responsibility of the State government to make arrangements for the protection of victims and witnesses against any kind of intimidation, coercion, inducement, violence or threats of violence.
  • It also prescribes the duty of State officials to prevent a hostile environment against people of the community who have been lynched, which includes economic and social boycott, and humiliation through excluding them from public services such as education, health and transport, threats and evictions.

Responsibility on Public Official

  • It lays down that “any police officer directly in charge of maintaining law and order in an area, omits to exercise lawful authority vested in them under the law, without reasonable cause, and thereby fails to prevent lynching shall be guilty of dereliction of duty” and will be liable “to punishment of imprisonment of one year, which may extend to three years, and with fine that may extend to fifty thousand rupees”.
  • No prior sanction is required to register crimes against public officials who fail in their duties to prevent hate crimes such as lynching.

No prior sanction

  • It does away with the requirement of prior state sanction before acting on a hate crime. All hate crimes today should attract Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, which is related to fostering enmity between people on the basis of religion, race, language and so on. But registering this crime requires prior permission of the State government, and most governments use this power to shield perpetrators of hate crimes who are politically and ideologically aligned to the ruling establishment. The Manipur law does away with this requirement, which would make acting against hate crimes far more effective and non-partisan.

Rehabilitation

The last substantial contribution of the law is requiring the state to formulate a scheme for relief camps and rehabilitation in case of displacement of victims, and death compensation.

Significance

  • The Manipur law closely follows the Supreme Court’s prescriptions, creating a nodal officer to control such crimes in every State, special courts and enhanced punishments.
  • But its weighty significance lies in that it breaks new ground in some critical matters concerning hate violence in India, and shows the way in which the Union and other governments need to move if they are serious about combating hate crimes.
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