Cowed down: On the need for strict anti-lynching laws 

News: Recently, two tribal men were beaten to death in Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, on the suspicion that they were slaughtering cows.  

Why mob lynching and aftermath incidents are disturbing? 

These laws have led to a stigmatisation of communities such as Dalits, Muslims and tribals for their dietary habits and their dependence on cattle products for a livelihood. Therefore, the brunt of the mob violence has been borne by Muslims, Dalits and Tribal. For example, Pehlu Khan murder in April 2017 in Rajasthan.  

The priorities of the law enforcement agencies are absurd. For example, the police department has stated that one of the dead men was involved in a “cow slaughter” in this case.  

While implementing the cattle slaughter laws, the police fail to try and bring those involved in lynch mobs to justice.  

The cattle slaughter laws seem to have been brought for appeasement of majoritarian impulses to garner political support instead of looking for animal preservation. 

Judicial pronouncement related to anti-cattle slaughter laws? 

In 2005, the Supreme Court had justified the total ban on cattle slaughter. The court interpreted the Articles 48, 48A, and 51(A) of the directive principles of state policy in the Constitution, that seeks to preserve breeds used in agriculture and animal husbandry, besides promoting compassion to animals.  

The 1958 judgment had limited the ban only to “useful” cattle which are still engaged in agriculture and husbandry. Thus, stringent laws on cow slaughter were enacted.  

Way Forward 

The police should actively take action against the persons having alleged involvement.  

Four States (Rajasthan, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Manipur) have passed laws against lynching. These laws are under various stages of implementation with the Union government because lynching is not a crime under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).  

The society should return to the rule of law in which such murderous acts do not go unpunished.  

it is time for a judicial rethink on legislation around cattle slaughter. 

Source: The post is based on an article “Cowed down: On the need for strict anti-lynching laws” published in the “The Hindu” on 07th May 2022. 

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