New Delhi: As the Centre informed it on Friday that an empowered Group of Ministers had been set up to consider framing a law on mob violence, the Supreme Court warned states and Union territories to strictly implement the directions it had issued in July to prevent cow vigilantism and gave a week’s time to file the compliance report.
Taking note of the fact that only 11 out of 29 states had filed the compliance report, a three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud warned that it would issue orders for the presence of the respective home secretaries if the defaulting states don’t file the report within one week.
Acting on a petition filed by Tehseen S. Poonawalla and others, the court had in July suggested to Parliament that it enact a law to make lynching a separate offence, and include a provision for compensation to victims. The court had made it clear then that mobs could not take the law into their hands and resort to lynching.
It said there could be no shadow of doubt that the authorities who are given the responsibility to maintain law and order in states have the principal obligation to ensure that vigilantism, be it cow vigilantism or any other kind of vigilantism, does not take place.
Giving a series of directions, the court had said the states should designate a senior police officer, not below the rank of superintendent of police, as a nodal officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching. They shall set up a special task force to procure intelligence reports about people likely to commit such crimes or who are involved in spreading hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news.
Senior counsel Indira Jaising also brought to the court’s notice that no action had been taken against the police for the Alwar lynching incident, which happened within three days of the verdict. She asked why no departmental action, except a transfer, was taken against three of the police officers who had prioritised bringing cows to the nearest “gaushala” over taking the victim to the hospital, due to which he had succumbed to his injuries.
She also contended that the chargesheet in connection with the event had not been produced so far. Additional solicitor-general Tushar Mehta informed the bench that, in pursuance of service rules, the SHO has been placed under suspension in contemplation of disciplinary proceedings while the constables had been transferred. Further, he submitted, three out of the four accused had been arrested, and the investigation was ongoing over the fourth, who was absconding.
He said the chargesheet under Section 302 IPC should be filed on Friday itself.