States must compensate victims of cow vigilantes

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The top court three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and comprising of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud said that all states are under an obligation to compensate the victims of cow vigilante violence cases. "There are several FIRs lodged in cases involving violence by cow vigilante groups and nothing has happened in any case", he told the bench. However, the court was firm in its view that "law and order has to receive primacy and anyone violating peace must face stringent action".

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.

During the last hearing, the bench asked the states to nominate a senior police officer, preferably of the rank of deputy superintendent of police, to ensure that vigilante groups don't "behave as if they are law unto themselves and take prompt action and prosecute such people with quite promptitude". 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. Some kind of planned action is required so that vigilantism does not grow. Activist Tehseen S Poonawalla too has approached the court on the issue.

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The court also said that if any state does not have a compensation scheme for victims of cow protectors, it should formulate one under the Criminal Procedure Code.

She referred to an affidavit filed by the Home Ministry and pointed out that the Centre had never asked for any feedback from the States on how they had spent the Nirbhaya funds.

Cattle traders, transporters and farmers and meat traders have been at the receiving end of cow vigilante groups as many victims, including those in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal, have been killed.

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