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The Supreme Court on Tuesday, July 3 came down hard on cow vigilantism and lynching and said it was incumbent upon States to prevent any such incidents.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, while reserving its order on pleas seeking directions to formulate guidelines to curb such violence, said this was a law and order issue and each State has to be responsible.

“This kind of incidents cannot occur. It can’t be accepted in remotest sense. Obligation of states to ensure that such incidents do not occur,” the apex court observed.

The bench observed that the instances of vigilantism was actually mob violence, which is a crime, no matter what the motive is and added that it is a law and order issue that is the responsibility of state governments.

Whether a lynching happens as a result of cow vigilantism or because people believe someone is a child abductor, it doesn’t matter – lynching is a crime, period, said the court.

“Who will stop them? Some mechanism has to be there to prevent violence indulged in by these groups. This must stop. Some kind of planned and well-coordinated action is required by the governments so that vigilantism does not grow,” the bench said.

The top court said it plans to issue guidelines to the Centre as well as all states on how to deal with this grisly phenomenon.

The Centre, in its submission, told the three-judge bench of Supreme Court that mob lynching is a law and order problem and the Court may deal with the state governments if they are not following its order.

Last year, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar had directed the Centre and states to take strong measures to curb cow vigilantism.

On September 6 last year, the apex court had asked all the states to take stern measures to stop violence in the name of cow protection, including appointing of senior police officers as nodal officer in every district within a week and acting promptly to check cow vigilantes from behaving like they are “law unto themselves”.

The apex court had sought response from Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments on a plea seeking contempt action for not following its order to take stern steps to stop violence in the name of cow vigilantism.

The contempt petition has been filed by Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, saying the three states have not complied with the top court order of September 6 last year.

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