SC Says Mob Lynchings ‘Unacceptable’, Compensation on Injury Basis

Supreme Court to issue guidelines on prevention of mob lynchings and a compensation scheme for victims’ families.

3 min read
The SC has reserved its judgment on petitions relating to mob violence by cow vigilantes.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, 3 June, took a strong stance against mob lynchings, including those by cow vigilantes, and reminded state governments of their obligation to prevent them. “These kind of incidents cannot occur. It can’t be accepted in the remotest sense. Obligation of states to ensure that such incidents do not occur,” observed the bench (according to NDTV).

The bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud was hearing two related matters: a petition filed last year by activist Tehseen Poonawalla against cow vigilantism, and contempt petitions filed by Tushar Gandhi against the states of Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh for failing to comply with the Supreme Court’s directions about the same.

The judges reserved their verdict but have promised an “elaborate judgment” that will include a scheme for compensation of victims and directions/guidelines to prevent lynchings. It has asked all the parties, including the petitioners as well as the Central and state governments to submit recommendations for the same.

‘Nobody Can Take the Law Into Their Own Hands’

On 6 September 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 officers in every district within one week and acting promptly to check cow vigilantes from behaving like they are “law unto themselves”.

Despite these directions, there have been mob lynchings recently in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, and petitioner Tushar Gandhi argued that these states had failed to comply with them. The court, therefore, sought responses from the three state governments.

Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha, representing the Centre, said the Union government was alive to the situation and trying to deal with it as best as they could, but since this was a question of law and order, state governments had to take action. On this basis, he rejected suggestions for the framing of a scheme by the Centre, as requested by senior advocate Indira Jaising (representing Gandhi).

Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, representing Poonawalla, submitted suggestions for detailed guidelines that the court could issue, including empowering Nodal Officers, special directives for areas where lynchings have taken place, and making local police officers responsible for lodging FIRs when an incident of mob violence occurs. He urged the court to prepare guidelines like the ones recently provided for dealing with honour killings in the Shakti Vahini case.

Compensation to be Based on Injury, Not Community

Jaising had argued before the court that lynchings tend to be targeted violence based on communal factors like religion or caste, and recommended that the compensation provided to victims and their families should take this into account.

CJI Dipak Misra disagreed, saying that anyone could be a victim of mob violence, and stressed that the court was considering the broader issue of mob lynchings, not just lynchings by cow vigilantes. The compensation scheme by the court will set out rules for determining compensation based on the nature of injury.

The court took note of the arguments by Jaising that there were already several judgments which make compensation mandatory for victims of crimes such as these, and that a better mechanism is needed to ensure that this compensation was actually delivered to the families of victims.

With inputs from PTI.

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