New Delhi: A three-judge Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra on Tuesday said that "horrendous act of mobocracy can't be allowed” and asked the Centre to make ‘lynching’ a separate offence and bring in a law.
This ruling from the top court comes just a day before the Monsoon session of Parliament starts from Wednesday where over 40 pending bills and 60 new ones will be taken up for discussion in both the Houses.
The court said the pluralistic aspect of the country must be safeguarded. “Horrendous act of mobocracy can't be allowed. No citizen can become law unto himself,” the bench said.
The SC also issued directions for Centre and all states. “Compliance has to be filed within four weeks and states must maintain peace. States can't become deaf against growing rumblings,” the bench said.
On July 3, a bench of CJI Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud reserved its verdict on pleas by Tehseen Poonawalla and Tushar Gandhi, who prayed to the court to initiate contempt against states that failed to take measures to combat cow vigilantism.
Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, in his plea told the court that contempt must be instituted against Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, as they had failed to comply with the top court’s order.
In September last year, the apex court had asked all the states to take stern measures to stop violence in the name of cow protection. It had directed states to appoint senior police officers as nodal officers in every district within a week in order to check cow vigilantes from taking "law unto themselves".
The court had also sought response from Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments on a plea seeking contempt action for not following its order to take stern steps to stop violence in the name of cow vigilantism.
However now the apex court has directed the states to file a compliance report within four weeks.
The plea filed by Poonawalla mentioned that vigilantes were committing atrocities against Dalits and minorities in the name of protection of cows and they needed to be "regulated and banned in the interest of social harmony, public morality and law and order in the country".
He said that the violence committed by these 'gau raksha' groups has risen to such proportions that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared them as people who are "destroying the society".
The court, while hearing the matter also heard submissions from the Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha, who had argued that this was a "law and order problem" and was within the domain of the state.
However, the government had later agreed that the Centre was aware of cow vigilantism cases and was taking measures to counter the same.
The bench had demanded that a mechanism to curb acts of violence be set up. “Who will stop them?” the bench asked. “This must stop. Some kind of planned and well-coordinated action is required by the governments so that vigilantism does not grow,” it added.
The court had also asked the governments of Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to submit their replies on the matter. The bench said, “Let the compliance reports be filed. Nobody can wash off their hands [from their duty]. We will give directions to all the states.”