SC: law is practised in courts, not on the streets

The Supreme Court, which condemned the spate of recent lynchings in the country, on Tuesday said no one could take the law into their hands.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra mentioned how lynchings were once so rampant in the United States that Mark Twain called it the “the United States of Lyncherdom.” “The sarcasm is apparent,” the Chief Justice wrote.

The Bench, also comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, said no individual can target a person and “deal” with him as if he is already guilty.

The streets cannot be the scene for investigation, trial and punishment.

The law is practised in courts and not on the streets. Citizens have the right to report to the police if they see something they perceive to be a crime; they cannot be the law and the punisher.

“When any core group with some kind of idea take the law into its own hands, it ushers in anarchy, chaos, disorder. Eventually, there is an emergence of a violent society,” the Chief Justice wrote.

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