Supreme Court tells Centre to create law to halt lynching, says 'horrendous acts of mobocracy' can't be tolerated

Amid a rise in number of mob lynching cases across India, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday that "horrendous acts of mobocracy" cannot be tolerated and recommended the Centre to enact a separate law against lynching and vigilantism.

"No citizen can take law into their own hands. In case of fear and anarchy, the state has to act positively. Violence can't be allowed," a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud said on Tuesday, as reported by news agency ANI.

According to CNN-News18, the bench put the onus on state governments, saying the states cannot become deaf against growing rumblings. "It is the duty of the state to maintain law and order, social and pluralistic fabric of the society and the rule of law," the bench said.

The apex court directed the Centre and state governments to file compliance reports with regards to the guidelines issued by it in four weeks, Live Law reported. The matter has been fixed for further hearing on 28 August.

The court's order came on a batch of petitions, including one by social activist Tehseen S Poonawalla and Tushar Gandhi, seeking to curb violence by cow vigilante groups. Gandhi had also filed a contempt plea on some states, accusing them of not enforcing the earlier orders of the court. The apex court order is pertaining not only to cow vigilante violence but also regarding violence perpetrated by all vigilante groups.

On 3 July, the apex court had reserved its order in the case. The court had earlier said that violence by any vigilante group had to be curbed after its attention was drawn to the incident in Maharashtra whereby five people were killed by a lynch mob in the wake of social media posts on alleged child lifters.

Article 256 of the Constitution, which spells the obligation of states and the Union, provides that the Centre could give necessary directions to the states in a given situation, but the Centre had said it could issue advisories to the states as law and order was a state subject.

The government had said that the concern was of maintaining law and order and the question was implementation of Supreme Court orders by the state governments.

On 6 September, 2017, 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.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jul 17, 2018 12:44:46 IST