The Supreme Court on September 6 issued directions to states to put in place a mechanism to stop cow vigilantes from taking law in their hands and committing atrocities on people particularly those who are transporting animals from one place to another. The court was hearing a petition filed by Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi who argued that despite the Prime Minister’s warning to the so-called protectors of cows not to indulge in violence, several incidents were occurring in which innocent people were lynched on this or that pretext.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Amitav Roy and A M Khanwilkar said states shall nominate a senior police officer to ensure that vigilante groups do not behave as if they are a law unto themselves. The erring people and criminals should be arrested and prosecuted promptly. On behalf of the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana solicitor general Tushar Mehta assured the court that a task force would be deployed to prevent violent incidents and take action against cow vigilantes. The court gave one week to state government to submit their reports. Chief secretaries and police chiefs have been tasked with carrying out these directions. After hearing senior counsel Kapil Sibal, Indira Jaising and others, the bench observed that although the centre did make a statement that state governments were required to take action, the untoward and violent incidents were being reported till date. It means no mechanism was in place by the state governments. Indira Jaising told the court that at least 66 alleged incidents occurred in recent time.