The Congress on Tuesday said it will pass a new law in the first session of the next Lok Sabha to prevent and punish hate crimes such as "mob-engineered" lynching, stripping and burning if voted to power.
The proposed law will contain provisions to compensate victims and to hold the police and district administration accountable for proven negligence, the party said in its election manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
"We will pass a new law in the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha and in the Rajya Sabha to prevent and punish hate crimes such as mob-engineered stripping, burning and lynching," the party said.
The Congress has been alleging that cases of lynching and mob violence have increased significantly under the BJP rule and no strong action is taken against the perpetrators of such crimes. The government has categorically rejected all such allegations and said strong action has been taken whenever such cases have occurred.
Also, under the section of review of laws, rules and regulation in its manifesto, the Congress proposed to omit Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code that defines the offence of ''sedition'', saying it has been "misused" and become "redundant because of subsequent laws".
The party called for decriminalising laws that are essentially laws directed against civil violations and can be subjected to civil penalties.
It also pitched for omitting Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code and making ''defamation'' a civil offence, according to the manifesto.
On the issue of media freedom, the Congress alleged that sections of the media have "abused or surrendered their freedom" in recent times.
"Nevertheless, we believe that self-regulation is the best way to correct the abuse of media freedom. Congress promises to amend the Press Council of India Act, 1978 to strengthen the system of self-regulation, protect the freedom of journalists, uphold editorial independence and guard against government interference," the party said.
The Congress said it will amend the Press Council of India Act to empower the Council to deal with the menace of fake news and paid news.
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