Ban on cow vigilante groups: SC first seeks Centre, states' replies
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to pass any order to direct DGPs of states to appoint a police officer in each district to enforce the ban on cow vigilante groups, saying it will first seek the response from Centre and the state governments.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said at this juncture, it cannot pass any order directing the DGPs of states to appoint police officers to enforce ban on such groups without knowing the stands taken by the Centre and the state governments.
The bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar said the Centre and five states, which have not filed their replies so far, should file it in six weeks.
Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde informed the court that only Karnataka had filed a reply so far, while the Centre and the states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh have not filed them yet. He said that by the time the state governments file their replies, the police chiefs of the states should be directed to appoint a police officer to ensure the ban on these groups as there were increasing incidents of violence. "No, we cannot pass orders like this. We have to first see what is the response of Centre and state governments. Let the reply come," the bench said.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing after summer vacation while allowing an NGO Vishwa Gau Raksha Vahini to be impleaded as party. The NGO has sought dismissal of the petition as non-maintainable.
The apex court had on April 7 sought the response of six states on the plea within three weeks. On October 21 last year, the top court had agreed to examine the plea which sought action against cow vigilantes who were allegedly indulging in violence and committing atrocities against Dalits and minorities.
Activist Tehseen S Poonawalla, in his plea, said violence committed by these 'Gau Raksha' groups have reached such proportions that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared them as people who were "destroying the society".
The plea also alleged that these groups were committing atrocities against Dalits and minorities in the name of protecting cows and other bovines and they needed to be "regulated and banned in the interest of social harmony, public morality and law and order in the country". "The menace caused by the so-called cow protection groups is spreading fast to every nook and corner of the country and is creating disharmony among various communities and castes," the petition said.
The plea sought to declare as "unconstitutional" section 12 of the Gujarat Animal Prevention Act, 1954, Section 13 of Maharashtra Animal Prevention Act, 1976, and Section 15 of Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964, which provide for protection of persons acting in good faith under the Act or rules.