Taking action against cow vigilantism a ‘State subject’, Centre tells SC

Court grants Centre, States four weeks to file affidavits in reply to petitions seeking criminal action against cow vigilante groups.

Ending vigilantism and violence by cow protection groups or ”gau rakshaks” is a ‘State subject’ and the Centre has no role to play though it condemns all forms of vigilantism, the Union government told the Supreme Court on Friday.

Neither the Centre nor have States such as Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra filed any written response to the court’s repeated orders to them do so to a bunch of petitions led by Shehzeen Poonawalla seeking criminal action against cow vigilante groups whose recent rampages and lynchings saw rise in communal tensions in the country.

The petitions sought a direction to the Central and State governments to pull down all the videos of violence uploaded by cow vigilante groups from social media sites.

“Why is there no response from the Centre or the States?” senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, for one of the petitioners, asked in the court.

“It is a State subject. Union of India has no role to play,” Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar replied to the court.

The Uttar Pradesh counsel merely stated the fact that the State has not filed its response.

The Gujarat counsel said there was one such incident of violence involving ”gau rakshaks” and the persons allegedly responsible for it have been arrested.

Mr. Kumar said the Centre addressed the issue in Parliament on Thursday. It had conveyed that arrests had been made in the State where incidents of violence took place. Nothing was left unaccounted for.

The Solicitor General asked the court to record in its order that “the Centre does not support any kind of vigilantism against the law by any private persons”. This was duly recorded.

The court granted the Centre and States four weeks to file their affidavits in reply to the petitions.