New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked all states to take stern steps to stop violence in the name of cow protection by appointing a senior police officer as nodal officer in every district within a week. The court told the states to act promptly to check cow vigilantes from behaving like they were a “law unto themselves”.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra directed the chief secretaries of all states to file a status report giving details of actions taken to prevent incidents of cow vigilantism.
“The senior police officer shall take prompt action and ensure (that) vigilante groups and such people are prosecuted with quite promptitude,” the bench, also comprising Justices Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar, said while issuing notice to the centre and others on a PIL filed by Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
“People should not take law into their hands and they should not behave as if they were law unto themselves. This must stop. Such acts are not permissible,” the bench said in a stern message.
“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,” the bench said.
The court also asked state governments to ensure highway patrolling after it was pointed out that such incidents took place on highways on the pretext that vehicles were carrying beef.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Tushar Gandhi, referred to several incidents of mob lynching and assaults in the name of cow vigilantism.
She said such incidents were “no longer a law and order issue” and have become a nationwide phenomenon which need preventive action.
“We do not want to come to the court after people are dead. Rather, we want people to be saved,” she said and referred to the statement of Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar that the central government did not approve of such incidents of people taking law into their hands.
The court posted the matter for further hearing on September 22 and asked the states and others to file responses in the meantime.