New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked the Rajasthan government to state within a week what action it has taken in the case of the alleged lynching of dairy farmer Rakbar Khan on July 20, following its directions on the incidents of cow vigilantism.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra considered the plea of Congress leader Tehseen Poonawala seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against the state’s officials including the Chief Secretary and the DGP for alleged violation of the top court’s verdict in the Alwar lynching case.
The apex court had on July 17 said that “horrendous acts of mobocracy” cannot be allowed to overrun the law of the land and issued a slew of guidelines to deal with mob lynching and cow vigilantism, besides asking the Centre to consider enacting a new law to sternly deal with such cases.
The bench, which also comprised Justices AM Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, also took note of the fact that only Maharashtra, Punjab and Chandigarh had filed compliance reports after the court had directed all states and union territories to take steps to deal with the offences of mob violence and cow vigilantism and file a compliance report by today.
It directed Rajasthan’s Principal Secretary of Home department to file an affidavit within seven days detailing the action taken by the state government in the case. It also asked the remaining states to file their compliance reports by September 7. At the outset, senior advocate Indira Jaising sought criminal action against those police officers who had failed to take the Alwar victim to hospital in time, which had led to his death.
Poonawala, in his plea, said the 28-year old dairy farmer Rakbar Khan was attacked by a group of cow vigilantes in Lalwandi village of Ramgarh district in Rajasthan on July 20, three days after the apex court had delivered a detailed verdict. Khan, a resident of Haryana and his friend Aslam, were transporting two cows to Kolgaon through a forest area when the mob had attacked them apprehending that they were taking the animals for slaughter, it said.
While Aslam managed survive as he hid in the fields, the crowd killed Rakbar, it said, adding that there was a considerable delay in taking the deceased to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.
The contempt plea has alleged that the incidents of mob lynching and vigilantism were taking place despite the apex court verdict in this regard. The court had issued a slew of directions to the government to provide “preventive, remedial and punitive measures” to deal with offences like mob violence and cow vigilantism.
It had asked the state governments to designate a senior police officer, not below the rank of Superintendent of Police, as nodal officer in each district. These nodal officers should be assisted by a DSP rank officer in the district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching, it had said.
The officers shall constitute a Special Task Force to procure intelligence reports about the people who are likely to commit such crimes or were involved in spreading hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news.
“The states shall forthwith identify Districts, Sub-Divisions and/or Villages where instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past, say in the last five years. The process of identification should be done within a period of three weeks from the date of this judgment, as such time period is sufficient to get the task done in today’s fast world of data collection.
“The Secretary, Home Department of the concerned States shall issue directives/ advisories to the Nodal Officers of the concerned districts for ensuring that the Officer In-charge of the Police Stations of the identified areas are extra cautious if any instance of mob violence within their jurisdiction comes to their notice,” the 45-page verdict had said.
The judgement was delivered on a batch of petitions including Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Tushar Gandhi and Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla seeking formulation of guidelines to curb incidents of mob violence and lynching in the country.