Lynching Unacceptable : SC

The Supreme Court called the latest instance of lynching over rumours of child-lifting “unacceptable” and said it would frame guidelines to prevent such incidents and force governments that fail to stop them to pay compensation.

The guidelines could come out in two weeks, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said, while dealing with a petition on cow vigilantism. The three-judge bench’s attention had been drawn to the latest instance in which a mob had gone after alleged child lifters and it said lynching was not acceptable in a civilised society.

“… people can’t take the law into their own hands. These kind of incidents cannot occur. They are unacceptable…by any norm,” said Misra, sitting alongside justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud. The CJI declared at another point that no motive can “justify such mob violence”. “It is the duty of the court to prevent such incidents and the obligation of the states to prevent it,” the CJI remarked.

He was hearing a petition filed by activist Tehseen Poonawala against cow vigilantism. The petition was argued by senior advocates Indira Jaising and Colin Gonsalves. The bench indicated it would not restrict its intervention to cow vigilantism and would cover all mob violence.

The bench insisted that state governments, charged with the constitutional duty of maintaining law and order, must be held responsible for failing to check the occurrence of such incidents.

The court hinted its norms could include payment of compensation for victims of all mob violence. “For controlling law and order, each state will be held responsible,” the CJI said.

The CJI’s remarks came after the central government said it had done its part by issuing advisories to state governments to prevent such incidents from happening.

“We have taken cognisance of such incidents and issued advisories,” additional solicitor general PS Narasimha told the court. “If states are not implementing this, take states to task.” The CJI said that states have to be held to constitutional parameters of governance. He was open to a suggestion to incorporate guidelines laid down in the honour-killing case.

These guidelines include tasking senior police officials with identifying problem areas and taking preventive steps to ensure that these type of incidents do not recur. Jaising complained that despite a court direction earlier to appoint nodal officers in each district to prevent such crimes, more such instances had been reported from different parts of the country.

Things have gone way beyond law and order, she said. There seems to a pattern and motive to this targeted violence, she argued.

Jaising said since most of these incidents took place along highways and railway tracks, the Centre could not wash its hands of the matter. She suggested more highway patrolling in vulnerable, violence prone areas.

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