Why Hasn’t The Centre Invoked Article 256 Yet To Control Mob Lynching?

Mob lynchings are on the rise in the country. Any crowd can beat up anyone to death and in most cases there is no redressal for the victims’ kin. A law and order crisis is at its peak. The recent letter by some prominent personalities to PM Modi, complaining about these lynchings, has been making the news.

In the past, Prime Minister Modi had warned anti-social elements responsible for such lynchings, but other than that, he seems to be helpless in such matters. Is it because the Central government wants to steer away from the matters of law and order of a state? The central government has often insisted (for other matters) that law and order is the state’s concern. But, is that really true? Is the government with such a huge majority really incapable of handle a such a pressing concern? Or, it is only an excuse to to steer clear of these allegations?

Before moving ahead, let’s read what Article 256 of the constitution say:

The executive power of every State shall be so exercised as to ensure compliance with the laws made by Parliament and any existing laws which apply in that State, and the executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of such directions to a State as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for that purpose

What does this article say? It empowers the centre to provide any strict instructions to states regarding the compliance of any parliamentary or assembly laws as may appear to be necessary. Center can make states take actions according to the law on some critical issues. In July, 2018, the then CJI, Deepak Misra, asked the Central government to frame a scheme under Article 256 to give directions to the States to prevent the instances of lynching and maintain law and order.

Then why is the centre not using this Constitutional power of giving directives to states on such matters? The Parliament only needs to pass an anti-lynching law which is easy for this government with such a huge majority. The states will be then bound to obey the law, considering they aren’t doing anything yet. On the other hand, BJP has governments in the majority of states, so it’s really not so much of a problem.

I have not seen any significant step by the centre towards this crisis. No official directive has been sent to any state by the centre on this. The government is in a hurry to get the RTI amendment bill passed but doesn’t have time to look after this national issue. PM Modi has a great influence on people; through his speeches he can vehemently condemn these horrifying acts. But no strong campaign has been started. Despite the Supreme Court’s guidelines to states to frame an anti-lynching law, no state, except Manipur, has passed it, including BJP ruled states.

Article 256 is not being not being talked about in the media either, which signifies the power the centre has. It’s all about the political will, otherwise there is no justification for such indifference by the government in such a grave matter.

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