A panel of senior government officers on Saturday deliberated over the possibility of enacting a new law to check the increasing incidents of lynching in different parts of the country.
Tehseen Poonawalla, who petitioned the Supreme Court and got a string of directives issued to the government on prevention of the crime, appeared before the Committee of Secretaries and strongly pitched for a new law with punishment of life imprisonment to those found guilty.
Mr Poonawalla, who is pressing for an anti-lynching bill or Masuka (Manav Suraksha Kanoon), told PTI that he had a fruitful meeting with the panel headed by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and explained the difference between riots and mob violence, "all of which together can be called lynching".
He said an incident of lynching can take place due to factors like anger, hate, fear etc. and hence, there is a need to define every such crime separately.
Mr Poonawalla said he conveyed to the panel that whenever a special law was enacted, the incidents of the crime concerned have come down.
He gave the examples of dowry deaths and atrocities on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to drive his point home.
He also suggested that a minimum of Rs 25 lakh should be given as compensation to the families of victims of lynching.
The committee is expected to deliberate further on the matter before submitting its report to a Group of Ministers headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh within four weeks.
The GoM will submit its report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Those who attended Saturday's meeting include secretaries of law, legal affairs and social justice and empowerment.
The member of the GoM are External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot.
Thirty-one deaths due to lynching have been reported from nine states in the last one year.
The most recent case was reported from Alwar district of Rajasthan, where a man named Akbar Khan was beaten up allegedly by a group of villagers over suspicion that he was a cow smuggler.
Earlier this week, following the Supreme Court's directives to check incidents of lynching, the Home Ministry had issued advisories to states and Union territories.
The Centre asked them to appoint an officer in each district at the level of Superintendent of Police, set up a special task force to gather intelligence, and closely monitor social media contents to prevent mob attacks on suspicion of being child-lifters or cattle smugglers.
In its communique to states and UTs, the ministry had said, "Incidents of violence and lynching by mobs in some parts of the country fuelled by various kinds of rumours and unverified news such as child lifting, theft, cattle smuggling etc, are a matter of serious concerns. Such instances of persons taking the law in their own hands run against the basic tenets of the rule of law."
"All state governments, UT administrations and their law enforcement agencies are requested to implement the directions of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit."