Supreme Court asks Centre & states not to protect any kind of vigilantism
The apex court’s direction came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned a spate of violence across India linked to the cow, saying killing in the name of cow worship was not acceptable.
The Supreme Court of India on 21 July 2017 asked the Union Government and the states not to protect any kind of vigilantism. It also sought their response on violent incidents of cow vigilantism.
A three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Justice Dipak Misra comprising Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice M M Shantanagoudar was informed by the Centre that law and order is a state subject but it does not support any kind of vigilantism in the country.
The bench also sought the assistance of the Centre and states for removing violent content related to cow vigilantism uploaded on social media.
The centre’s response was on a petition filed by social activist Tehseen Poonawala, who in his plea seeks a direction to states and centre to take action against so-called Gau Rakhasks, who profess to protect cows.
Counsel appearing for BJP-ruled Gujarat and Jharkhand informed the court that appropriate action has been taken against those involved in violent activities related to cow vigilantism.
The bench recorded their submission and asked the Centre and other states to file their report regarding the violent incidents in four weeks time and posted the matter for further hearing on 6 September 2017.
Earlier on 7 April 2017, the apex court sought the response of six states on the plea, filed on 21 October 2016, seeking action against cow vigilantes who were allegedly indulging in violence and committing atrocities against Dalits and minorities.
Activist Tehseen S Poonawalla, in his plea, said violence committed by these 'Gau Raksha' groups have reached such proportions that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had termed them 'fake protectors' who are destroying the society.
More about the Petition
Poonawalla in his plea also alleged that these so-called cow protection groups were committing atrocities against Dalits and minorities. He claimed that these atrocities are committed in the name of protecting cow and other bovines and they needed to be "regulated and banned in the interest of social harmony, public morality and law and order in the country".
He alleged that the menace caused by these groups is spreading fast to every nook and corner of the country and is creating disharmony among various castes and communities.
The plea sought to declare as "unconstitutional" section 12 of the Gujarat Animal Prevention Act, 1954, Section 13 of Maharashtra Animal Prevention Act, 1976, and Section 15 of Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964, which provide for protection of persons acting in good faith under the Act or rules.
The plea also seeks action against these vigilantes groups and says that the atrocities committed by these groups are punishable under various provisions of IPC and under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.