The Supreme Court today came down hard on incidents of violence by vigilante groups in the name of cow protection and asked the central and state governments to take all necessary steps to prevent people from taking law into their own hands. Expressing concern over such incidents, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said killings and violence in the name of cow protection must be brought to an end.
Hearing a bunch of petitions seeking action against cow vigilantism, the apex court directed the Centre and state governments to take urgent action against cow vigilante groups. Appearing for the government, ASG Tushar Mehta apprised the court that there was a law already in place to prevent such incidents.
“Centre says there is a law in place. Then such incidents have to be curbed. People cannot be allowed to take law into their hands. This must stop. This is not permissible,” the CJI observed.
Indira Jaising, appearing for the petitioners, argued before the top court that incidents of violence and killings continue despite the Centre making statements against it. “They say FIRs are being lodged. But we do not want to come to court when people are dead. We have to prevent it,” she said.
The central government had on July 21 stated before the top court that they do not support or endorse ‘cow vigilantism’ and said it will be soon stated in an affidavit. The Centre had also said before the court that such incidents relate to law and order and thus it was the responsibility of the state governments to ensure to control them.
During the hearing today, the Supreme Court directed the Director Generals of Police of states to ensure that highways are off bound for cow vigilante groups. The court also asked Chief Secretaries of each state in consultation with DGPs to keep highways safe from cow vigilante groups.
The apex court also asked each state to appoint a senior police officer in each district as nodal officer to take action against cow vigilantism.
The Supreme Court also directed the petitioners to refrain from politicizing the issue and said that they should also file petitions questioning large scale animal slaughter during Eid.
On April 7, the Supreme Court had formally issued notice to the Centre and some states on a petition which sought a ban on cow protection groups for indulging in violence. A division bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Dipak Misra had on October 21 last year said it will examine the issue if the cow vigilante groups across the country should be banned for allegedly indulging in violence.