Mob violence is crime, don’t give it colour: Supreme court on lynchings

The bench observed that vigilantism is not confined to any particular motive; it’s actually mob violence, which is a crime.

NEW DELHI: Terming vigilantism in any form was unacceptable, the Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed concern over the growing incidents of mob violence and put the onus on the states to tackle them. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra while reserving its verdict said, “Nobody can take law into their own hands. It is the obligation of the concerned states to see that these incidents are prevented. This kind of incidents cannot occur. It can’t be accepted in the remotest sense.”

The bench observed that vigilantism is not confined to any particular motive; it’s actually mob violence, which is a crime. Last year, the court directed all states to take steps to stop violence in the name of cow protection and sought the appointment of officers who would keep an eye on vigilante groups. During Tuesday’s hearing, senior advocate Indira Jaising Gandhi demanded the summoning of chief secretaries of states for failing to prevent death caused by cow vigilantes. The bench was hearing a contempt petition by Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.

Jaising suggested that the Centre be directed to frame a policy on checking violence in the name of the cow. “A lynching incident has taken place just 60 km from Delhi,” she pointed out. Opposing the suggestion, Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha said law and order was a state subject and no separate law was needed for lynching or vigilantism. He added that from time to time, the government had been issuing advisories to states to take effective measures against such groups. Jaising shot back saying merely issuing advisories was not sufficient, adding the Centre could not run away from its duty.

‘Should not be linked to caste or religion’

Indira Jaising sought compensation for the victims of mob violence saying, “internationally, there is a recognised category of targeted violence where compensation can be paid. Mob lynchings are targeted violence based on religion or caste.” This led the bench to warn the petitioners not to link mob violence to religion or caste

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