Crimes Against Humanity in India: Towards a Legal Understanding

Posted: 17 Aug 2010 Last revised: 24 Mar 2011

Date Written: August 17, 2010


In recent times there has been much debate in India about a need for laws to deal with situations of mass crimes. This article aims to characterize what is recently understood as mass crimes in India, as the international jus cogens prohibition of Crimes Against Humanity. Using some of the documented cases of mass crimes in India, the paper demonstrates that while each of these cases are different in their details of causes, facts and responsibility, they, nevertheless, share common elements which meets the definition of Crimes Against Humanity. Indian laws do not have scope to treat mass crimes as anything other than common crimes and therefore cannot even begin to do justice to address situations of mass crimes. The article argues for the need for a better and accurate conceptual understanding of mass crimes in Indian laws and therefore the need for introducing a law on Crimes Against Humanity. The paper also discusses the relevance of including the crime of persecution and its importance in the Indian context. While introduction of such a law will equip the Indian judicial system with an enhanced understanding to prosecute cases of mass crimes, it will also bring Indian laws at par with recent developments in international human rights standards and international criminal law.

Keywords: Crimes Against Humanity, India, mass crimes, communal violence, persecution

Suggested Citation

Nainar, Vahida, Crimes Against Humanity in India: Towards a Legal Understanding (August 17, 2010). Available at SSRN:

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