Rule of Law v. Mob Lynching: Mob Lynching still an Undefined Fiction


“Once the light is on it, it spreads automatically”- Immanuel Kant

The quote of one of the greatest philosopher fits best with regard to the rule of mobocracy. The rule of mobocracy or mob lynching has always been a disputatious practice in the society. The spike of the mob lynching incidents has now become the saddest reality of a democratic country which is embedded with the harsh and inhuman reality of the modern society.

The series of mob lynching incidents in India bolster what has been defined by Hobbes as the state of nature. At the status quo it would not be unjust to say that the democratic setup of India is inclining towards the rule of mobocracy. The act of vigilantism and unrestricted and limitless digital and electronic boundaries has added fuel to aggravate the reaction of the masses. In the modern era of 21st century coupled with the title to be called as era of science of technologies, a single post, message, or blog is sufficed for the instigation and provocation among the citizens of the respective nations. Whenever news pertaining to the mob lynching comes into limelight it always raises the fundamental and substantial questions. These questions are – what is the reason behind such act? Is there any law to curb that social evil? Are human beings developed themselves into such creatures which have now become violent and aggressive and lack patience, morality and humanity?


The term mob lynching has not been defined under the Indian Penal system and therefore there are no punishment prescribed for the said offence. The word ‘lynch’ for the very first time originated from the American Revolution expressed by the term ‘Lynch law’ which is a discipline without preliminary. Both the words ‘lynch and lynch law’ has been derived from the two American known as Charles Lynch and William Lynch who from being from Virginia. [1] During 1782, Charles Lynch had wrote that the ‘loyalist’ and ‘Tories’ who were the supporter of British side were provided Lynch laws to deal with Negroes.[2] According to English lexicon the term ‘lynch’ means to execute, particularly by hanging by horde activity and without lawful expert. Thus mob lynching is defined to be as unlawful murder by irate crowd of individuals. At its centre it is an extraordinary and unlawful gathering of crowd with the float towards the general population scene. Lynching is a type of vigilantism itself the act of law enforcement undertaken without legal authority by self-appointed people or group of people.


The life of human being has come at the point of stake where there are deaths everywhere and there is no law and no government to protect the life of human being. Increase in the mob lynching incidents have aggravated and contravene the social and secular fabric of the democratic country. India has been called as state of diversities[3] or where heterogeneous cultures reside. But such heterogeneity has become a problematic issue of the democratic setup of the country now. By lynching several innocent people are savagely torture with cruelty to death. The rise in the incidents of mob lynching in India shows an odd and outrageous and barbarous behaviour of the mankind in the 21st century of modern world of science and technology. Thus mob lynching has created rifts and deep George between the different religious communities in India. For every religious sect and community its culture is of its prime importance and polarization of these things is the main reason behind lynching in a particular community. Many texts also described mob lynching as the street justice where the trial and investigation are done on the paths of street by violent and aggressive mob with lethal weapons without fear of law. These incidents of mob lynching completely are totally inconsistent with the norms of rule of law. Thus, every incident of mob lynching is seen to be as unfettered eel of inhumanity and injustice. The hurricane of mob lynching clearly depicts the feeling of apathy towards the victims in the society. Thus, acts done in the name of the religion has created line of conflict between the Hindus and Muslims in the Pre-Independence Era and thus these line of conflict are considered as prime instances of lynching which has brought schism in the relationship of Hindus and Muslims in the community.  Thus, this schism has brought and has widened the Hindu Muslim controversy and the partition movement and pits created by the British rule has caused polarization between both the communities.


Violence has always been associated and inherited gene present in human body. This seems to be justify by looking back to the history of human beings right from the period of early life of human beings in jungle to the era of kingship, from World war I to World War II, it seems to justify that a human being cannot restrict himself to be bound by rule of law. The fear factor and violent nature of human being is based on the two assumptions. Firstly, to have justice in its own hands and secondly to cause more harm to the person who caused the person certain loss and damages. Thus mob lynching and rule of mob is used as a tool to justify the notion of mob rights. Thus the belief of serving justice pushes the culprit in the dark corners where people and mob are ready to do speedy justice irrespective of any fact that such act make cause innocent person to suffer. This situation of mob lynching enhances dark clouds of vigilantism and the irony lies in the fact that some self-appointed and self-presumed people of justice deliver street justice. Under the law it has already been stated that that a person is innocent unless proven guilty, however the mood of current mob does not believe in this right and under the garb of their majority they seem sham and sacrificed the procedure established by the court of law.  It has always been stated that crime has no religion, no caste, no class etc. but still people are causing death b such offense in the name of religion. Thus, such incidents of mob lynching abrade the foundation principles enshrined under the Constitution of India and clearly abridges the fundamental rights mentioned under Part III of the Indian Constitution. The Preamble of the constitution of India says;

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC, REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens;

JUSTICE, social, economic and political

LIBERTY of thoughts, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and opportunity; and to promote among them all,

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of individual and unity and integrity of the Nation:

Thus, the incidents of mob lynching clearly slams upon the Constitutional objectives and principles enshrined under the Indian Constitution. If no strict penalties to be inflicted with regard to the incidents of mob lynching the time will come where people do not approach to the courts but prefer to be happy in mob justice and the time will come when India would be called rather to a republic state to be as state of lynching.



On 29th September 2006, it was the first case related to mob lynching which was reported in India.  The incident took place in one of the district of State of Maharashtra. The dispute was related to land where a mob of more than 50 villagers entered into the house of the victim and started beating the family members and the mob also naked the wife and daughters before they murdered them. Such incident clearly defines the barbarous act of inhumanity where family members have been killed by the aggressive mob in the name of the land.


On March 5th 2015 in one of the district of Nagaland, the person accused for the offence of rape was murdered by the mob that entered into the premises of central jail and lynched the accused to death. Such incident clearly reflects the negation of the principle of rule of law and the lack of people’s confidence in judiciary.


On September 28, 2015 an incident of mob lynching broke out in one of the villages of Uttar Pradesh where a group of Hindu mob had lynched the Muslim family to death for stealing calf of cow and slaughtering the calf for beef and storing the meat for consuming. The line of conflict that is always drawn between both the communities is the religious politics which instigates people’s to do the same act, but killing someone is also against the principle of natural justice.


On June 22nd 2017 three Muslim brothers were travelling in a train. While the brothers were in the train there was argument arose between these brothers and some Hindu people regarding the seats. One of these brothers was consuming beef while in the train and by the arguments the mob of Hindus lynched these brothers in which one of the brother was stabbed to death while the others survives after multiple injuries. In a country like India, where there is diversities in Indian Culture but such incidents seems to contravene against the ideals of the Constitution.


The act of mob lynching is either followed by grievous hurt or death and punishments have been prescribed for the both these offences. The provision of the said offence can be attracted by offences punishable under Section 302(Murder), Section 304 (Culpable Homicide not amounting to murder), Section 320(Grievous Hurt), Section 326(Voluntary causing grievous hurt with dangerous weapons), Section 141(Unlawful Assembly), Section 148, Section 149, section 120B and Section 153(Promoting enmity between religious groups on the ground of race, caste, creed, colour, religion, etc.)

In the recent case of Tehseen Poonawalla & Ors v Union of India[4] the court dealt with the issue of mob lynching and issue guidelines to the Central government with regard to increase in the incidents of mob Lynching and issued guidelines to the Parliament for enacting legislation for preventive, remedial and punitive measure keeping in view of increased incidents of mob lynching so as to secure the constitutional rights of vulnerable people.


“Law and Order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become dangerously structured dam that block the flow of social progress”[5]

Thus, in a nutshell, this article lays emphasis on the increasing incidents of mob lynching, which has brought the rule of mob in conflict with rule of law. The need for the time is to have the best set of laws for the offence of mob lynching which can curb the offence and would certainly change the mind-set of the people living in the society. Individuals who are the part of mob lynching think themselves to be as sole proprietor of Justice delivery system and completely negates the concept of rule of law and importance of the role of the judiciary and thus at times killed innocent people in the name of justice and religion. If justice has to be delivered by way of mob justice then, why the Constitution makers constitute the social documents i.e. the Constitution of India? Thus this remains still big question unless and until no steps would be taken by the government to curb mob lynching.

[1] Michael Quinion, “Lynch” (World Wide Words, 2008) (October 01, 2019,10:05 AM

[2] Christopher Waldrep, “Lynching and Mob Violence”2 New York City: Oxford University Press, 2006, 308

[3] State of Karnataka and Another v. Dr. Praveen Bhai Thogadia, (2004) 4 SCC 684.

[4] (2018) 6 SCC 72.

[5] Letter from Birmingham Jail [Martin Luther King].

This article is authored by Pranav Kumar kaushal, Student of BA.LL.B at Bahra University, Himachal Pradesh.

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