Mobocracy cannot be allowed to become new norm: SC on vigilantism

SC on vigilantismNEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has asked Parliament to consider enacting a new law to effectively deal with incidents of mob lynching, saying “horrendous acts of mobocracy” cannot be allowed to become a new norm. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also passed a slew of directions to provide “preventive, remedial and punitive measures” to deal with offences like mob violence and cow vigilantism.
The bench, which also comprised justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said it was the duty of state governments to ensue law and order in society, besides ensuring that the rule of law prevailed. “Citizens cannot take law into their hands and cannot become law unto themselves,” the bench said. “Horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be allowed to become a new norm and has to be curbed with iron hands,” it said, adding that states cannot turn a deaf ear to such incidents.

The bench asked the legislature to consider enacting a new penal provision to deal with offences of mob violence and provide deterrent punishment to such offenders. The top court passed the order on a plea seeking formulation of guidelines to curb such violent incidents in the country.
The bench has now posted the PIL filed by persons like Tushar Gandhi and Tehseen Poonawalla for further hearing on August 28 and asked the Centre and state governments to take steps to deal with such offences in pursuance of its directions. The CJI, who pronounced the verdict in a packed courtroom, did not read out measures directed by the court to deal with such offences.
The SC had earlier dubbed the cases of lynching by vigilantes as a crime and not merely a law and order problem and had taken serious note of mob violence. During the earlier hearing, senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Mahatma Gandhi’s great grandson Tushar Gandhi, had said that lynching by cow vigilantes was happening despite the top court’s orders directing states to appoint nodal officers in each districts. Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha had said the Centre was alive to the situation and trying to deal with it.
On September 6 last year, the apex court had asked all states to take stern measures to stop violence in the name of cow protection, including appointment 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. A contempt petition was filed by Tushar Gandhi, saying the three states have not complied with the top court order of September 6 last year. PTI

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