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'Nobody Can Wash Off Their Hands': Top Court Tells States On Gau Rakshaks

NEW DELHI: "Nobody can wash off their hands," remarked the Supreme Court yesterday as it asked top officials to apprise it of steps taken to deal with cow vigilante groups in 22 states. The top court, on September 6, 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.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, "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 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 chief secretaries 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.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, who appeared for Mr 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.

Ms 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.

"Don't mix up the issues," the bench said.

Earlier, the top court had passed a number of directions to stop violence in the name of cow protection and asked the states to appoint a senior police officer as nodal officer in every district to act promptly to check cow vigilantes from behaving like they are "law unto themselves".

It had asked the states to form a dedicated task force in every district to stop such acts and directed their chief secretaries to file a status report giving details of actions taken to prevent incidents of cow vigilantism.

The court had also asked the states to ensure highway patrolling after it was pointed out that such incidents took place on highways on the pretext that vehicles are carrying beef.

Besides Mr Gandhi, Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla has also filed a similar petition.
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