The Supreme Court of India today said the incidents of mob lynching and cow vigilantism cannot be allowed to become a new norm, and asked the parliament to consider enacting a new law with provision for deterrent punishment to effectively deal with such incidents.
An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also directed the state governments to provide “preventive, remedial and punitive measures” to deal with offences like mob violence and cow vigilantism.
The bench, which also comprised of justices A M Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said it was the duty of state governments to ensure law and order in the society, besides ensuring that the rule of law is prevailed.
“Horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be allowed to become a new norm and has to be curbed with iron hands,” the bench said, adding that the states cannot turn a deaf ear to such incidents.
“Citizens cannot take law into their hands,” it said.
At least 30 people have so far been killed in mob lynching across ten states of India in the last one year including instances of cow vigilantism.
Some incidents, including one in southern state of Karnataka on last Saturday, also related to lynching of persons on suspicion that they were child traffickers.
The bench asked the legislature to consider enacting a new penal provision to deal with offences of mob violence and provide deterrent punishment to such offenders.
The top court passed the order on a petition seeking formulation of guidelines to curb such violent incidents in the country.
The bench’s observations came on a public interest litigation petition filed by persons like Tushar Gandhi, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, and Tehseen Poonawalla seeking the Indian top court’s directives to the federal and state governments to take steps to deal with suchoffences.
The Indian Supreme Court had earlier dubbed the cases of mob lynching as a crime and not merely a law and order problem,takening serious note of such instances.
During a hearing in the past on the issue, senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Tushar Gandhi, had told the top court bench that lynching by cow vigilantes was happening despite the top court's orders directing the states to appoint nodal officers in each district.
Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha had said the federal government was trying to deal with the situation.
On September 6 last year, the apex court had asked all states to take stern measures to stop violence in the name of cow protection, including appointment of senior police officers as nodal officer in every district within a week and acting promptly to check the cow vigilantes from taking law into their hands.
The apex court had sought responses from Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh state 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. All these three states are ruled by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
A contempt petition was also filed by Tushar Gandhi, saying the three states have not complied with the top court’s order in this regard.