TAKING SERIOUS note of lynchings and mob violence, the Supreme Court on Tuesday put the onus on the states to check such incidents. Saying it would “not confine these incidents to any particular motive”, the court said “this is mob violence, which is a crime”.
“We do not want lynchings. We do not want mob violence. We want to protect victims,” said a bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.
The court was hearing a batch of petitions seeking its directions for curbing violence by cow vigilantes.
“Whoever they are, they can’t take the law into their hands. These kinds of incidents cannot occur. It can’t be accepted in the remotest sense,” said the CJI. He said “it was the obligation of the states to ensure that such incidents do not occur”, and hence an elaborate judgement was necessary. “The states shall be held responsible,” he said.
Appearing for one of the petitioners, advocate Indira Jaising said the violent incidents of cow vigilantism “go beyond crime and law and order problems” and “there is a pattern to it”.
“We shall not confine these incidents to any particular motive. This is mob violence, which is a crime. The Centre should frame a scheme under Article 257 (Control of the Union over States in certain cases) of Constitution,” said the CJI. “There have to be preventive measures,” he said.
Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha said it was “unnecessary” to frame any new statute as there are already provisions.
Jaising said though the court had already ordered highway patrolling and appointment of nodal officers to prevent such crimes, they continued to occur near highways. Some liability has to be fixed on the Centre too, she said.
Narasimha said the Centre was aware of its responsibility and had taken steps to deal with it. He said the main concern was maintaining law and order, and submitted that the Centre had already issued advisories to the states.
But Jaising said it was not enough to issue advisories, and it should also ensure that the advisories are implemented. She said it involved targeted violence against vulnerable sections.
Reserving its order, the court said it would pass a detailed judgement, and allowed the parties to file their written submissions in three days.
On September 6 last year, the apex court had asked all the states to take stern measures to stop violence in the name of cow protection, including appointing senior police officers as nodal officers in every district within a week and acting promptly to check cow vigilantes from behaving like they are a “law unto themselves”.
The apex court had sought responses from Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments on a plea seeking contempt action against them for not following its order.