New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday slapped contempt of court notice on the States of Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana and UP for not implementing the order issued on September 6, 2017, to prevent cow vigilante groups from taking law into their hands.
A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Kanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud issued notice on the petition filed by journalist Tushar Gandhi and others to show cause why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them.
The bench after hearing senior counsel Indira Jaising for the petitioner said the presence of contemnors is not required for the present and directed the matter to be listed for further hearing on February 23. On that it will be enough if the States are represented through their counsel.
Acting on the petition filed by Gandhi, the court had come down heavily on cow vigilantism and directed all States (in particular the 5 contemnor States) to appoint nodal police officers in every district to prevent cow vigilante groups from resorting to violence and taking law into their hands.
It said that states should nominate a senior police officer, preferably of the rank of deputy superintendent of police, to ensure that vigilante groups don't "behave as if they are law unto themselves” and to take prompt action and prosecute such people with promptitude.
The court gave the state governments one week to submit their reports on nomination of police officers and the instructions issued to them. Chief Secretaries and police chiefs of the states have been tasked with carrying out these directions.
Gandhi brought to the notice of the court 66 alleged incidents of mob lynching and assaults in the name of cow vigilantism after the central government's undertaking in the court.
The CJI had told the ASG “Steps have to be taken to stop this. Some kind of planned action is required so that vigilantism does not grow. Efforts have to be made to stop such vigilantism. How will they (states) do it, is their business but this must stop.”
The court had also directed the Centre to respond to a submission by senior advocate Indira Jaising for Gandhi that the Centre cannot wash their hands of its constitutional responsibility under Article 256 of the Constitution to instruct the States to take "necessary" steps in law to save innocent human lives from fury of the mobs.
The bench directed the Chief Secretaries and the Directors General of Police of States to consult each other and respond to the court on steps taken for highway patrolling to prevent such incidents.
The petitioners had sought criminal action against cow vigilante groups whose recent rampages and lynchings have seen communal tensions rise in the country. The petitions had also sought a direction to the central and state governments to pull down all the videos of violence uploaded by cow vigilante groups from social media sites.
The bench directed the contempt petition to be listed along with the main writ petition on February 23.