A plea seeking contempt action against the governments of Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for not following its order to take stern steps to stop violence in the name of cow vigilantism, on Monday led the Supreme Court to seek responses from the three states.
The contempt petition has been filed by Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, saying the three states have not complied with the top court order of September 6 last year.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud issued notice and sought the replies from the three states by April 3.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Gandhi, said that despite the apex court order, violent incidents were still being witnessed in various parts of these states.
The bench said it will hear the contempt petition along with the main writ petition filed by Gandhi earlier.
On September 6 last year, 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 officer in every district within a week and acting promptly to check cow vigilantes from behaving like they are "law unto themselves".
Observing that such acts of violence "must stop", it had directed the states to form a dedicated task force in each district. It had asked their chief secretaries to file status report giving details of actions taken by them to prevent incidents of cow vigilantism.
"The senior police officer shall take prompt action and ensure (that) vigilante groups and such people are prosecuted with quite promptitude," the top court had said.
It had observed that the people "should not take law into their hands" and "they should not behave as if they were law unto themselves".
The top court had also asked the Centre to respond to the submission that it could issue directions under Article 256 (obligation of states and Union) of the Constitution to all state governments on issues related to law and order.
It had said that "some kind of planned action is required so that vigilantism does not grow" and efforts have to be made to stop such vigilantism.
"How will they (states) do it is their business, but this must stop," the bench had observed.
It had directed the states to ensure highway patrolling after it was pointed out that such incidents mostly took place there on the pretext that vehicles were carrying beef.
The Centre had told the apex court that it does not approve any such incident of people taking law into their hands.
Gandhi in his earlier PIL had sought various reliefs, including a direction to all state governments to take preventive measures against cow vigilantism.
Besides Gandhi, Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla has also filed a similar petition.