Mob, murder, motivation: The emergence of hate crime discourse in India

Bhat, M. Mohsin Alam (2020) Mob, murder, motivation: The emergence of hate crime discourse in India. Socio-Legal Review, 16 (1). pp. 76-108. ISSN 0973-5216

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Since 2015, various legal and civil society actors started highlighting the visible rise in media-recorded incidents of anti-Dalit and anti-Muslim violence in the country. These conversations were marked by diverse and competing ways of describing and legally addressing such events. One of the categories that the various actors came to deploy was hate crime. The hate crime concept is distinct from other alternatives like lynching, communal riots, and vigilantism due to its simultaneous focus on motivation and social hierarchy. In response to a set of petitions in 2018, the Supreme Court of India through a series of guidelines in Tehseen Poonawalla vUnion of India, sought to introduce greater official accountability, procedural protection to victims and witnesses, and more stringent punishment for perpetrators. This article argues that the Court's intervention is best interpreted in the light of the hate crime concept. This is evident when we situate the case in the longer trajectory of the media and public discourse, the framing of the legal arguments, and finally the Court's order. Nevertheless, the article argues that while there is a definite emergence of the hate crime framework in the Indian legal and policy discourse, it continues to be inconsistently and contradictorily applied to the detriment of coherence and effectiveness. The article concludes that the most effective way to address these limitations is to foreground the conceptual and institutional resources of the hate crime concept.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Tehseen Poonawalla v Union of India | Hate crime | Anti-Muslim violence
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Law and Legal Studies
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Mr. Syed Anas
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2022 17:33
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2022 05:17
Official URL:


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