The Fear of Law and Lynching

Behind every successful fortune there is a crime, wrote Mario Puzo. Truly, not everyone fears the law. How else would a head constable’s son be Dawood? It is magnificent that the Supreme Court has recommended to the Parliament the creation of a separate offence of lynching. While all that you read after is the charm of law and legality, the prayer to the criminal remains. Whoever rides on the lion’s back must surely end up in the lion’s stomach.


Mr. Sanjay R. Hegde, while substantiating the assertions made in Tehseen S. Poonawalla v. Union of India, [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 754 of 2016] submitted: “no individual or vigilante group can engage himself/themselves in an activity of lynching solely on the basis of a perception that a crime has been committed“.

Hon’ble Justice Dipak Misra, Honb’e Chief Justice of India: “Lynching is an affront to the rule of law and to the exalted values of the Constitution itself. We may say without any fear of contradiction that lynching by unruly mobs and barbaric violence arising out of incitement and instigation cannot be allowed to become the order of the day. Such vigilantism, be it for whatever purpose or borne out of whatever cause,has the effect of undermining the legal and formal institutions of the State and altering the constitutional order. These extrajudicial attempts under the guise of protection of the law have to be nipped in the bud; lest it would lead to rise of anarchy and lawlessness which would plague and corrode the nation like an epidemic. The tumultuous dark clouds of vigilantism have the effect of shrouding the glorious ways of democracy and justice leading to tragic breakdown of the law… Unless these incidents are controlled, the day is not far when such monstrosity in the name of self-professed morality is likely to assume the shape of a huge cataclysm…  Lynching and mob violence are creeping threats that may gradually take the shape of a Typhon-like monster as evidenced in the wake of the rising wave of incidents of recurring patterns by frenzied mobs across the country… Lynching, at one point of time, was so rampant in the United States that Mark Twain had observed in his inimitable style that it had become “ The United States of Lyncherdom”. The sarcasm is apparent…


We think it appropriate to recommend to the Legislature, that is, the Parliament, to create a separate offence for lynching and provide adequate punishment for the same. We have said so as a special law in this field would instill a sense of fear for law amongst the people who involve themselves in such kinds of activities. There can be no trace of doubt that fear of law and veneration for the command of law constitute the foundation of a civilized society…

On 20th August, 2018…Further Directions.