SC says states must appoint police officers to prevent cow vigilantism, pay compensation for violence
Victims of crime, including people killed by cow protection groups, were entitled to financial compensation from the government, the Supreme Court said on Friday as it asked states to appoint district-level police officers to check violence by gau rakshaks.
The court also asked the chief secretaries of 22 states to file compliance reports in pursuance of its order on laying down a mechanism to sternly deal with self-styled cow vigilante groups.
“The state is under obligation to frame a scheme and compensate those who are killed in violence,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra in reponse to advocate Indira Jaising’s plea for a judicial order for paying compensation to the family of 15-year-old Junaid who was killed in a train near Delhi on June 23.
Jaising pleaded in court on behalf of Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, who is among several petitioners who have moved the top court seeking action against the vigilante groups, accused of attacking and killing several people across the country on suspicion of smuggling cattle and eating beef.
Jaising said the central government be directed to frame a national policy on preventing incidents of cow vigilantism.
She also said there were several judgements, which make mandatory the award of compensation to the victims of such crimes, but unfortunately, the money was not being paid.
The bench, however, asked her not to “mix up the issues” of cow vigilantes and compensation.
“Let us not mix the two. This is related to law and order. File a separate petition and we will take a call,” the CJI said.
The court then asked the counsel for 22 states to file compliance reports by October 13 and fixed October 31 as the date for hearing the PILs.
“Let the compliance reports be filed...nobody can wash off their hands (from their duty). We will give directions to all the states,” the bench said.
Only five states – Rajasthan, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat – have carried out the order so far.
The court, while proposing measures to stem what it called growing violence by so-called cow protection groups, had said the nodal officers would have to ensure that vigilantes do not become a law unto themselves.
It had given states a week to comply with the order. The court had also asked states to list steps they would take to step up security on highways, where cow vigilantes have stopped vehicles carrying cattle and attacked people.
Critics have alleged the attacks have risen since the BJP-led government took power three years ago, and several states ruled by the party made laws to punish cow slaughter. Critics accuse the vigilantes of using cows as a pretext to target Muslims and Dalits.