Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais has sent an anti-lynching Bill passed over three months ago back to the state government, the Hindustan Times reported on Friday.
The Jharkhand Assembly had passed the Prevention of Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Bill, 2021, on December 12.
However, Bais has asked the state government to reconsider the definition of a mob as it is “not in consonance with the well-defined legal lexicon or glossary”, the newspaper cited unidentified persons familiar with the matter.
In December, Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Amit Kumar Mandal had also claimed that the word “mob” had not been properly defined and could be misused, according to The Indian Express. When the Bill was being discussed in the Assembly, the BJP had opposed it and alleged that it was an attempt to engage in appeasement politics.
However, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren accused the BJP of trying to confuse people. “If we talk about Mob Lynching Act, tell me if it is a Muslim Lynching Act, Adivasi Lynching Act or Hindu Lynching Act,” he had asked. “...A mob is a mob.”
On February 11, some members of tribal communities had met Bais as representatives of an organisation named Janjati Suraksha Manch. They had asked the governor not to approve the Bill, and claimed that it undermined special legal provisions for the tribal community, according to the Hindustan Times.
The Bill defines lynching as “any act or series of acts of violence or death...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 ground”.
A person found involved in mob lynching may be punished with up to life imprisonment and may be fined between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 5 lakh depending on the severity of the crime. In case a person dies during the lynching, the perpetrators can be fined Rs 25 lakh.
All offences under the Bill have been made cognisable, non-bailable and non-compoundable. It has also made provisions to punish persons involved in planning mob violence, supporting or attempting it.
If the Bill receives the governor’s assent, Jharkhand will become the fourth state in India to have passed a law against mob violence after West Bengal, Rajasthan and Manipur.