A special Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra concluded that citizens could not take the law into their own hands and perform acts of lynching and mob violence. This comes as a response to various such incidents of lynching taking place across the country in recent months.
The Supreme Court has directed the centre and the states to take preventive, punitive and remedial measures to stop lynching incidents in the future. The bench asked the Parliament to form new penal provisions that deal with lynching.
“Horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be allowed to become a new norm and has to be curbed with iron hands”, the bench, comprising Misra, Justice A M Khanwilkar, and Justice D Y Chandrachud, declared. It went on to say that states can no longer turn a deaf ear to such incidents.
Issuing detailed guidelines of how to deal with the problem, the Supreme Court also urged the Parliament to enact a separate law in order to punish offenders participating in lynchings.
Supreme Court action against mob violence not new
Alongside several other petitions concerning mob violence, the Supreme Court verdict is a response to a contempt petition filed by Tehseen Poonawalla and Tushar Gandhi, concerning rising instances of cow vigilantism.
On 6 September 2017, the Supreme Court had asked all the States to take stern measures against violence in the name of cow protection, including the appointment of nodal officers in every district, and highway patrolling to check cow vigilantes and mob violence. The contempt petition pointed out that despite the SC’s issue of these guidelines, such incidents have been on the rise.
The bench overseeing this petition reserved its judgement on the matter of cow vigilantism, instead expanding the scope of the issue to mob violence in general. On 29 January 2018, a similar contempt petition had led to the apex court issuing notices to the Rajasthan, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh state governments.