ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Missing the Point

The Supreme Court’s judgment on lynchings fails to address the framework that facilitates them.

The Supreme Court judgment in Tehseen S Poonawalla v Union of India, delivered on 17 July, with guidelines and directions to ostensibly curb the spread of lynching across the nation, does not use the words beef, Hindu, Muslim, Dalit or Savarna. Reading the judgment without context, with repeated references to vigilantism (11 times) and law and order (five times), one would think the Supreme Court is concerned with curbing the activities of a Batman in Gotham City, rather than addressing events in 21st century India.

Authored by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, the judgment does not seem to suggest any real understanding of the true nature of the problem: that a lynching is not something that happens on the spur of the moment or is just another breakdown of law and order. Rather, it is primarily a tool for maintaining the social order. That it is supposed to remind oppressed communities of the price they will pay for attempting to move ahead of their station in life. That there is a performative element to the whole offence, and that it enjoys tacit or active support of the state machinery.

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Published On : 20th Jul, 2018

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