New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre, all states and Union Territories to give wide publicity to the directions given in July this year to curb cow vigilantism as people must realise that mob violence and taking the law into their hands will invite “wrath of law”.
A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud gave this direction on petitions filed by Tehseen Poonawala and others dealing with ‘cow vigilantism’.
The top court also granted a week’s time to eight states and Union Territories to comply with its directions on curbing cow vigilantism and mob lynching.
The bench took note of the fact that eight states, including Mizoram, Telangana, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Delhi, are yet to file reports indicating the compliance of its July 17 verdict within three days and directing listing of the petitions after two weeks. It asked them to put the information on measures to curb the mob violence on their websites so that people know the recourse available to them.
When senior counsel Indira Jaising submitted that one of the directions given to the Centre and states with regard to giving wide publicity in television and radio had not been complied with, Attorney General KK Venugopal informed the court that steps would be taken for giving publicity within a week.
In the last hearing, the attorney general had informed the bench that in pursuance of the apex court verdict, an empowered group of ministers has been set up to consider framing a law on mob violence.
Acting on a petition filed by Tehseen S Poonawalla and others, the court in July suggested the Parliament enact a law making lynching a separate offence including the provision for compensation to victims. The court had then made it clear that ‘mobocracy’ could not take law into their hands and resort to lynching.
The order had said there can be no shadow of doubt that the authorities which are conferred with the responsibility to maintain law and order in the states have the principal obligation to see that vigilantism, be it cow vigilantism or any other vigilantism of any perception, does not take place.
Giving a series of directions, the court had said the states shall designate, a senior police officer, not below the rank of superintendent of police, as nodal officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching. They shall constitute a special task force so as to procure intelligence reports about the people who are likely to commit such crimes or who are involved in spreading hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news.
Senior counsel Indira Jaising informed the bench that Rajasthan government had not taken action against the police over the Alwar lynching incident, which happened three days after the verdict.
The petitioner said that on July 20, Akbar alias Rakbar was lynched by a mob on suspicion of being a cow smuggler in Alwar. His associate Aslam who was transporting cows on foot along with him managed to escape.
The state police had stated that Aslam managed to escape and unknown locals beat the victim Akbar up with sticks, which led to serious injuries on his arms, legs and all over his body. He then collapsed, the police said.
Counsel questioned as to why no departmental action except a transfer was taken against three of the police officers who had prioritised bringing the cows to the nearest ‘gaushala’ over taking the victim to the hospital, by reason of which he had succumbed to his injuries. She also contended that the chargesheet in connection with the event has not been produced so far.
ASG Tushar Mehta for Rajasthan informed the bench that a compliance report had been filed on September 20 explaining the action including the suspension of the SHO in contemplation of disciplinary proceedings while the constables have been transferred.
Further, he submitted that three out of the four accused have been arrested and an investigation is underway in respect of the fourth who is absconding. He said the chargesheet under section 302 of the IPC had been filed.