A fortnight after directing states to take stern action to stop cow vigilante groups from becoming law unto themselves, the Supreme Court said on Friday that states were obliged to compensate victims of violence perpetrated by these criminal gangs.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said, “Victims of violence have to be compensated. States are obliged to frame victim compensation schemes and grant assistance to victims of violence.”
Seizing the opportunity, senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for petitioner Tushar Gandhi, said no compensation was given to cow vigilantism victim Junaid of Faridabad till date and requested the court to order the Haryana government to take urgent steps in this regard. “Not only in Haryana, but in many other instances in other states, no compensation has been paid to victims of cow vigilantism,” she said.
The bench refused to be drawn into specific instances of violence by cow vigilante groups while dealing with the larger issue. “On the Faridabad incident, you must approach the high court concerned. We do not want to mix this incident with the real issue you (petitioner) are espousing,” it said.
Jaising pleaded it was high time the SC stepped in to frame a national policy against cow vigilantism to prevent violence in the name of cow protection. “Please direct the Centre to come out with a scheme for prevention of such violence,” she said.
The bench said there was a practical difficulty in asking for a national policy on what was primarily a law-and-order issue, falling squarely in the domain of states. “We do not want to pass such an order. It is a state subject. It is constitutionally not permissible to order the Centre to frame a national policy,” the CJI-headed bench said.
On September 6, the SC had ordered states to take immediate steps to rein in cow vigilante groups and prevent these gangs from “taking the law into their hands” and keep highways safe from such attacks. It had directed states to appoint a senior police officer for each district as the nodal person to coordinate action against cow vigilante groups. It had ordered chief secretaries of each state to meet the directors general of police to keep highways safe.