In a landmark judgment Supreme Court of India on Tuesday condemned the lynching incidents across the country. The Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be allowed to become a new norm in the Country.  The  Bench directed the Centre and states to take preventive, punitive and remedial measures to stop lynching incidents in future. It has issued detailed guidelines regrading the same.
On July 3, A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A. M. Khanwilkar and D. Y. Chandrachud had reserved its judgment on a string of writ petitions filed by, inter alia, Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla and the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Tushar Gandhi, in the light of the rising instances of cow vigilantism.
Senior Counsel Indira Jaising, Colin Gonsalves and Sanjay Hegde had appeared for the petitioners, Senior Advocates V. Giri and Sidharth Luthra for the applicants, while the Centre was represented by ASG P. Narasimha and A. S. Nadkarni.
Broadening the scope of the issue, the Chief Justice had observed, “The concept of vigilantism is not about any particular incident or motive…it is about mob violence…members of any concerned group cannot take the law into their hands…even if there is no law, they are nobody…”
“We can deal with this under Article 142…we have developed the concept in Shakti Vahini (honour killings)…compensation and monitoring of investigation are aspects that have to be looked into…also, what would be the point of a judgment without any preventive measure”, the CJ had opined.
“We intend to pass the judgment on the petitions, keeping the contempt alive…these kind of instances cannot occur…it is the obligation of the states to prevent the same…hence, an elaborate judgment is needed”, CJI Misra had asserted on July 3.
The bench also participated in a discussion with Ms. Jaising as to who could be a victim of vigilantism. “The protected categories in Article 15 should be covered…”, suggested Ms. Jaising.
“Anyone could be a victim…Why only those covered under Article 15?”, observed the bench.
“The term ‘victim’ is defined in the Cr. P. C…but we are coming for vulnerable categories…Targeted violence is different from General violence…this is not murder that happens in someone’s living room…”, she responded.
“Do not bring Article 15”, reiterated the bench.
On September 6, 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 and highway patrolling to act promptly to check cow vigilantes from behaving like they are “law unto themselves”.
Subsequently, on January 29, the court had issued notices to state governments of Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on a petition seeking contempt proceedings for failing to comply with the aforesaid directions.