Supreme Court asks Union to direct States to take preventive action in cases of cow vigilantism

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard a petition filed by Tushar Gandhi, great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, seeking Union action with regard to the numerous instances of cow vigilantism across the country. Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing on behalf of Tushar Gandhi in the matter, highlighted the 66 instances of lynchings that have taken place, stating that it was not a few stray incidents but a pattern of directed violence towards Muslim and Dalit communities. The bench of the Supreme Court hearing the matter comprised of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Amitava Roy.

Counsel Indira Jaising began her arguments stating that while the statement of the Solicitor General, Ranjit Kumar, condemning the actions of cow vigilantes in the case of Tehseen Poonawala by stating that the Union does not support such acts, was commendable, the claim of law and order being a concern of the states seemed like the Union was taking the easy way out by simply washing its hands off the matter. In her prayer she sought the Union to direct the States to take action under Article 256 of the Constitution.

Tushar Mehta, representing the Union of India stated that the Solicitor General’s statement needed to be respected, and in the instances of violence, FIRs would have to be lodged and the law would take its due course. However, this was countered by Counsel Jaising stating that she sought prevention of similar incidents.

After listening to arguments by both sides, the bench directed the Union to direct States to appoint Senior police officer as nodal officers in each district to deal with incidents of mob violence and cow lynchings. The Court directed Chief Secretary of each State, in consultation with the Director General of Police to take steps with regard to patrolling on highways which are often the ground of such violence.

Read the order here.

Read the petition here