The acquittal of 42 people in the Youhanabad lynching case by an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Lahore is being met with severe criticism due to the lack of justice meted out to the victims and their families. While Youhanabad faced an attack of deadly nature, there is no justifying how the lives of two innocent people were taken away as revenge. The reason why we often see acquittal in such cases is that the court lacks the ability to penalise such a large group of people, the investigation process itself is very slow, and many accused end up losing their lives in jail due to the lack of prosecution in the case.

While prison and legal reforms are being discussed relentlessly, one aspect of them is certainly penalisation of large groups particularly in cases of a mob attack. The law needs to have a clear framework that allows for extensive investigation, data collection, and penalisation of the suspects if the crime is proven. Many accused in this case also lost their lives in prison because they were suffering from medical illnesses and the medical care being provided to them was insufficient. This negligence puts a lot of lives at risk, particularly when the case is not being resolved.

The case of the Youhanabad lynchers also started back in 2015 and after a delay of five years, the majority of the suspects have been acquitted. This only points out the loopholes in the legislature that gives suspects the space to aim for acquittal. Cases, where the crime has been committed, should be able to reach a decision with the help of the law. In this particular case, there was also another aspect involved that generally provides criminals the leverage to get away with the crime that they committed. Suspects of the lynching in this case also asked for the case to be taken back as they had struck a deal with the victim’s family. In such situations, the court generally provides leverage as the two parties are ready to settle scores outside of court. However, despite such agreements, the court still took around five years to get to this decision, which not only wastes resources but also ends up in imprisonment for many without proof of the crime.

The process of legal matters should be made more proficient in order for people to rely on the justice system. Legal reforms have been long due in the country and while model courts have certainly helped lessen the burden, the mainstream legal system should also be worked upon in order for the courts to work without influence and in a speedy manner. Mob justice is quite prevalent in Pakistan and the courts should be able to penalise those in groups who act against the law.