Centre asked to specify its role under Article 256 on what it can do to ask states to rein in gau rakshaks
The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, asked all States and Union Territories to appoint district-wise nodal police officers to crackdown and prosecute cow vigilante groups who engage in violence and mayhem.
Four BJP-ruled States of Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Gujarat accepted the apex court’s suggestion to appoint dedicated nodal police officers in the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) to prevent cow vigilantes or gau rakshaks, as they call themselves, from “taking the law or becoming the law unto themselves.”
During proceedings in the case being heard by the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and Amitava Roy, senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Tushar Gandhi, an intervener in the case, said that the state has a great responsibility to ensure that FIRs be lodged and also ensure that people do not take law into their own hands. She submitted that the Union of India should issue notifications and guidelines for the same.
The Bench directed that the officers appointed by the states to check cow vigilantism should take prompt action in any case of deviation. It was also directed that the states should submit to the court, within a week, the names of the officers who have been nominated for the purpose.
Indira Jaising also raised the issue of inspection of vehicles on highways. This will also have to be taken care of by the states. The affidavit will have to be filed by the chief secretary of the state after consultation with the respective inspector general of police.
Over the past three years, India has seen a sharp rise in incidents of mob lynchings and cow vigilantism especially directed towards Muslims and Dalits. Jaising argued that the Centre cannot shrug its constitutional responsibility as enshrined under Article 256 to instruct the States to take necessary legal steps to save innocent human lives from fury of lynch mobs. The Bench then asked the Centre to respond to Jaising’s submission “in the spirit of co-operative federalism.”
The court has directed Additional Solicitor General Mehta to take instructions from the Centre, to specify its role under Article 256, as sought by Jaising, and the suo moto steps that the Centre would take to prevent any future incidents of violence.
Arguing that several incidents of lynch mobs and gau rakshaks attacking citizens had occurred along highways, Jaising also said that the States should take steps to initiate highway patrolling.
The court directed Chief Secretaries and the Directors General of Police of all states to consult each other and respond to the court on this issue while the Centre has also been asked to indicate its views.
The court posted the case for hearing on September 21.