Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai is expected to reply in the Lok Sabha on whether a new law on lynching is necessary or the existing laws were enough to check the crime on the second day of the winter session.
Ministry officials have been told to suggest whether any amendments to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to prevent lynchings are needed.
The Home Ministry is also examining the Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill, 2019, passed on August 5 by the state Assembly, providing for life imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh to persons convicted of lynching, before it becomes a law, as it seeks to amend the IPC, said a source.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) examines bills passed by state assemblies, many of which run contrary to Central laws but get President's assent to become a law. As per rules, the President has to go by the advice of the Council of Ministers.
More than 20 people were lynched in incidents which were triggered by fake posts or rumours of child-lifting shared on various social media platforms in May-June of 2018.
Incidents of lynchings in 2018 raised major concerns over the security of people following which several meetings were held by senior Central government officers with social media platforms to initiate action against persons spreading rumours.
In the backdrop of lynching incidents, the Supreme Court had also issued a notice to the Centre, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and state governments on a plea seeking implementation of its July 2018 judgement laying down several preventive, remedial, and punitive measures to combat the crime.
A Group of Ministers (GoM) on lynching was constituted in the previous term of the Modi government to suggest measures to combat mob lynchings.
Minister of State (Home) Nityanand Rai will also reply on three of the six starred questions while the remaining three questions will be answered by another Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy.
Apart from law on lynching, Rai is expected to reply on losses due to heavy rains and floods and the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014 while Reddy will reply on LWE, use of drone for terrorist activities, and crime against women and minor girls.
All the Joint Secretaries of Home Ministry's divisions like LWE, Disaster Management and Centre State (CS) have been tasked to complete answers on these starred questions under close observation of other senior officials in the Ministry, including Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla.
Starred questions are those for which an oral answer is expected. The member is allowed to ask a supplementary question, with the permission of the Speaker, after the reply is obtained from the Minister concerned.
As many as 41 unstarred questions are also expected to be answered by the Union Home Ministry in the upcoming winter session, which will culminate on December 13.
Non-starred questions are those for which a written reply is expected. After the reply has been provided, no supplementary question can be asked. A notice period is to be given to the Minister to reply to a question.
Considering the winter session, the Home Ministry issued a circular on November 11 regarding these starred and unstarred questions "due for answers" in Lok Sabha on November 19 directing all the sections concerned to mail their replies on email@example.com "without fail" as soon as the file is cleared by the Joint Secretaries or Additional Secretaries.
The division heads have been directed to ensure that the Hindi version of the answer and a note for supplementary (in case of starred question) are prepared and placed in file before placing it to Home Minister Amit Shah.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)