The Supreme Court Friday took a stern view of the fact that only 9 of the 29 states and 2 of the 7 union territories (UTs) have so far complied with its July 17 order giving a slew of directions to deal with mob violence and cow vigilantism incidents across the country.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra gave the last opportunity by granting one more week to the remaining states and UTs to do the needful and warned them that any default would be viewed seriously and their home secretaries will have to appear personally before it.
“We direct the remaining states and UTs to file the compliance reports in a week. If the reports are not filed, the home secretaries of the defaulting states will have to appear personally,” the bench, which also comprised Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, informed the bench that in pursuance of the apex court verdict, an empowered Group of Ministers has been set up to consider framing a law on mob violence.
The court also directed the Rajasthan government to file a report within a week giving details of action taken by it in the alleged lynching of farmer Rakbar Khan on July 20 in Alwar district of the state.
Earlier, it had issued notice to the state government on the plea of Congress leader Tehseen Poonawala seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Rajasthan officials, including the Chief Secretary and the police chief, for alleged violation of the top court’s verdict in the lynching case.
Poonawala, in his plea, had said the 28-year old dairy farmer Rakbar Khan was attacked by a group of cow vigilantes in Lalwandi village of Ramgarh district in Rajasthan on July 20, three days after the apex court had delivered a detailed verdict.
Khan, a resident of Haryana and his friend Aslam, were transporting two cows to Kolgaon through a forest area when a mob had attacked them on the alleged grounds they were taking the animals for slaughter, the plea said.
While Aslam managed to survive by hiding in the fields, the crowd killed Rakbar, it said, adding that there was a considerable delay in taking the deceased to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.
Today, lawyer Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for Uttar Pradesh government, informed the court that 11 states, including two UTs and Uttar Pradesh, have filed their compliance reports.
Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for Poonawala, said that 23 states were yet to file their reports.
The court then granted the last opportunity to all the states for filing their reports.
It also directed the Centre, the states and UTs to give wide publicity to its directions given on the verdict on mob violence. It asked them to put the information on measures to curb the mob violence on their websites so that people know the recourse available to them.
The apex court had on July 17 said that “horrendous acts of mobocracy” cannot be allowed to overrun the law of the land and issued a slew of guidelines to deal with mob lynching and cow vigilantism, besides asking the Centre to consider enacting a new law to sternly deal with such cases.
The court had issued a slew of directions to the government to provide “preventive, remedial and punitive measures” to deal with offences like mob violence and cow vigilantism.
It had asked the state governments to designate a senior police officer, not below the rank of Superintendent of Police, as nodal officer in each district to take steps to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.
The officers were asked constitute a Special Task Force to procure intelligence and information about those likely to commit such crimes or were involved in spreading hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news.
The judgement was delivered on a batch of petitions including Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Tushar Gandhi and Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla seeking formulation of guidelines to curb incidents of mob violence and lynching in the country.