We Don’t Need Another Law

One expects individuals to engage in virtue signalling, but sometimes institutions can do it as well. Today’s headline news: the Supreme Court has asked the Indian parliament to enact a new law to stop lynching.

This is so pointless. Lynching is already covered by the law. Beating people is already a crime. Killing is a crime. There are even laws under which the people who spread fake news on Whatsapp can be prosecuted. Exactly what will the new law cover that existing laws don’t already?

Our problem isn’t the laws that we have–though we do have some shitty laws–but the dual one of will and capacity. There are crimes that the state may not want to prosecute. And even when it does want to prosecute them, state capacity is not up to the task. These are the hard issues to tackle–and a Supreme Court diktat would make no difference in these areas.

If parliament does enact a new law to tackle lynching, it will be yet another new law that is never enforced. What we lack in India is not laws, but the rule of law.


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