NEW DELHI-- The Supreme Court has said that states are under obligation to compensate victims of violence by cow vigilante groups even without any judicial order. On Friday, a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, while hearing a petition by Congressman Tehseen S Poonawalla and activist Tushar Gandhi who sought direction to states to check cow vigilantism, said that states cannot "wash off their hands".
The SC has asked the Chief Secretaries of 22 states to file compliance reports in pursuance of its order on laying down a mechanism to sternly deal with cow vigilante groups.
Earlier, the court had directed all 29 states and seven union territories (UTs) to take steps to stop violence in the name of cow protection and asked them to appoint a senior police officer as the nodal officer in every district within a week to check such vigilante groups.
"Let the compliance reports be filed...nobody can wash off their hands (from their duty). We will give directions to all the states," the bench said.
The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, was informed during the brief hearing that five states -- Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Gujarat, have already filed their compliance affidavits and Bihar and Maharashtra would be filing it during the day.
It then asked the counsel for the remaining 22 states to file compliance reports by October 13 and fixed PILs, including one filed by Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi on the issue, for hearing on October 31.
At the outset, senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Gandhi, said the central government be directed to frame a national policy on preventing incidents of cow vigilantism. She also said there were several judgements, which make mandatory the award of compensation to the victims of such crimes, but unfortunately, the money was not being paid.
Jaising then raised the issue of Junaid, who was killed by a group of fellow passengers while returning to his Ballabhgarh home with his brothers after Eid shopping in Delhi on June 23 and said his family members were not paid any compensation and now, his father is ill and undergoing treatment at a hospital in Noida in Uttar Pradesh. "I am asking for the formulation of a scheme on compensation," she said.
The bench asked her not to "mix up the issues" of cow vigilantes and compensation. "Let us not mix the two. This is related to law and order. File a separate petition and we will take a call," the CJI said.
Jaising and senior advocate Kapil Sibal also raised the case of Pehlu Khan, who was killed in Rajasthan, and said that far from getting justice, the kin of the victims were being harassed through counter-cases.
With inputs from PTI
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