The Supreme Court Friday said states were under obligation to compensate victims of violence by cow vigilante groups even without any judicial order. “We do not have to say that. All states are under an obligation to compensate victims of cow vigilante violence. At the same time, law and order has to have primacy and anyone violating it must be dealt with sternly,” said a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, while hearing a petition by Congressman Tehseen S Poonawalla and activist Tushar Gandhi who sought direction to states to check cow vigilantism.
The bench said states must frame schemes to compensate victims of crime, including those of cow vigilantism as envisaged by the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Appearing for Tushar Gandhi, senior advocate Indira Jaising sought a scheme for those victimised by law-breakers. She referred to the case of Junaid, who was lynched on a train in Faridabad, and said “the payment of compensation should have been an automatic process”. The bench, however, observed that individual cases should not be clubbed with the larger issue.
Jaising and senior advocate Kapil Sibal also raised the case of Pehlu Khan, who was killed in Rajasthan, and said that far from getting justice, the kin of the victims were being harassed through counter-cases. The apex court also asked states and Union Territories to comply with its September 6 order to appoint nodal officers by October 31 to deal with cow vigilantism.
The direction came after the bench was informed that only five states — Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh — had filed reports complying with the earlier order and that Bihar and Maharashtra would be filing it during the day. It asked the Chief Secretaries of the remaining 22 states to file compliance reports in pursuance of its order laying down a mechanism to deal with such groups. “Let the compliance reports be filed… nobody can wash their hands of (duty). We will give directions to all the states,” the bench said.
Taking serious note of violence in the name of saving cows, the Supreme Court had on September 6 passed a slew of measures and asked states to appoint a senior police officer in every district as a nodal officer. “The senior police officer shall take prompt action and will ensure vigilante groups and such people are prosecuted with promptitude,” it had said, adding that the nodal officers have to ensure that cow vigilantes did not become a law unto themselves. The court also asked the states to file compliance reports.
“Steps have to be taken to stop this… Some kind of planned action is required so that vigilantism does not grow. Efforts have to be made to stop such vigilantism. How they (states) will do it, is their business but this must stop,” the Bench had said on September 6 after Indira Jaising, on behalf of the petitioners, said that there had been 66 incidents of mob lynching and assault since July.