Mob Justice Must Be Controlled by a Strong Hand: Shanti Bhushan.
The former law minister of India, a public-spirited lawyer and a living legend figure in the field of law, in fact, the only lawyer to have the profile of cross-examining the Prime Minister of India, and that too of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, does barely require any sort of introduction. The Express Today’s editorial board member Rohit Kumar gets the opportunity to record his opinion on the issue of increasing cases of ‘Mob Justice’ in India, the reasons of its frequent occurrence and the steps required to be taken in order to check this dangerous scenario which puts the basic foundations of justice delivery system at stake. Here is the excerpts from the interview:
Rohit Kumar: So, the first question is, what do you think, has been the main reason for the ‘Mob’ taking law in their hands? Why are the cases of ‘Mob Justice’ increasing day by day? What are the reasons of ‘Mob Justice’ increasing day by day?
Shanti Bhushan: Well, to some extent, as you have said, there is distrust particularly in the police that they will tackle and get booked the people who have committed a crime. So, that is one, because ‘Mob Justice’ takes place when some incident takes place or someone loses his life, so in that case people want that person who is responsible for that loss of life to be punished quickly and since the system in a ‘Rule of Law’ is rather complex, complicated, time-consuming, so people and many times by delays the people get acquitted by corruption in the police also, inefficiency in the police also. So, people lose faith in the administration of justice and therefore they want to, when they feel that this man has committed a crime, he should be punished, we don’t know whether the system will have him punished or not, so let us inflict the punishment. That is ‘Mob Justice’ and ‘Mob Justice’, unless it is controlled by a strong hand and also education, so, because most of the lumpen elements join the mob and since they have no job, no security, so they are happy in this, so that is also some kind of motivation. So firstly, it has to be tackled with a strong hand whenever it happens. Secondly, steps must be taken to quicken the wheels of justice and also to those who have committed a crime, the investigation should be more efficient and more scientific.
Rohit Kumar: Do you think that the huge delay done by the judiciary in pronouncing judgments is also a reason?
Shanti Bhushan: That is also a reason.
Rohit Kumar: We see, sometime State itself, sometime State itself or any State agency like police, like we see in the ‘Patiala House Court Case’ encourages mob to take law in hands, like the police stood as a mute spectator in ‘Patiala House Court Case’. So, how do you see it when State itself encourages mob to take law in hands?
Shanti Bhushan: This, to me, normally would not activate the mob to do justice unless there is some political directions, under whose control the police is working and if there is a hint that alright in this matter you allow the mob to take law in hands.
Rohit Kumar: Do you think that the government is really serious about bringing a check on the phenomenon of ‘Mob Justice’?
Shanti Bhushan: Well, I don’t feel that they could be non-serious but probably they have not thought about, in detail, or may be that there is not enough intelligence among the leaders in the government to think deeply of these problems and to try find out some solutions.
Rohit Kumar: If blame is to be imposed chronologically for the increasing cases of ‘Mob Justice’ whom will you blame first, the mob itself, inefficient administration or inefficient judiciary?
Shanti Bhushan: Mob itself and at the same time if you realize that when ‘Mob Justice’ takes place there is a lot of looting of property also and therefore that provides an incentive to the lumpen elements to be able to get away with lot of theft of valuable articles. (The interviewer intervenes, “It happens, recently it happened in Haryana where lots of public property as well as private property were looted out”). Yes, and it seems that some political leaders were behind it.
Rohit Kumar: One more question is that, lynching had once become so rampant and pervasive in the United States that one of the noted American authors Mark Twain had sarcastically noted that ‘America has become the United States of lyncherdom’. So, do you think that a similar situation is coming in India?
Shanti Bhushan: Well, to some extent, yes but still the general public doesn’t like this ‘Lynch Mentality’. So, in my opinion it can be controlled and one way to control it is to quickly get the army to intervene. There should be no delay in calling the army if the police is unable to control. All the police should be able to, should be told to stop it in the middle, stop it straightaway, and let it not grow.
Note: This interview was originally conducted at Sri Shanti Bhushan’s Noida Residence
Dated 1st of March 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ecf1iIa1NmU&feature=youtu.be
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