Mob Lynching and Cow Vigilantism

27th March, 2021

Case summary

Herewith, we have contemplated and made a brief summary and analyzed the case titled Tehseen S. Poonawalla vs Union Of India (WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 754 OF 2016).
In the present case, the petitioner who had been troubled by the recurring episodes of cow vigilantism in the country, three people: Martin Macwan, a Dalit rights activists; Mohan Bhai, Hamir Bhai, Bedva, a supposed survivor of such savagery and Tehseen Poonawalla, a activists legal counselor, documented the writ petitions in Supreme Court in August 2016.

They looked for the Court to give direction to the Centre and a few States to make a move against cow vigilantes. The Petitioners ensured that it's brought to the notice of the Court the increasing cow vigilantism occurrences, where private residents savagely rebuff individuals whom they suspect of eating meat. The petitioners challenged the provisions of cow protection laws of 6 States which protects the cow vigilantes – Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand, and Karnataka. Specifically, they challenge the provisions that forbid any legitimate activity against people for activities done 'in compliance with good faith' under the law.

Legislation Cited

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s.482

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s.174

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s.157

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 s.154

Indian Penal Code, 1860

Indian Penal Code, 1860 s.147

Indian Penal Code, 1860 s.336

Indian Penal Code, 1860 s.149

Indian Penal Code, 1860 s.427

Indian Penal Code, 1860 s.294

Indian Penal Code, 1860 s.148

Constitution of India, 1950

Constitution of India, 1950 art.32

Facts of the Case

● The case is related to the incidents of cow vigilantes in the country.
● After a spate of incidents of lynching in Dadri, Jharkhand and more by cow protection groups, distressed activists filed writ petitions in the Apex Court.
● Tehseen Poonawalla, a social activist, filed a writ petition under Art. 32 of the Constitution against the Respondent States.
● Tushar Gandhi filed the second PIL to initiate State responsibility for such mob incidents.
● The petitions were heard together by a three-judge bench.


1. Whether or not the Centre and state should develop immediate action plans to be undertaken against these cow vigilantes?
2. Whether or not the Centre and state should further remove the violent digital media content which is being uploaded by cow vigilantes?
3. Whether individual sections of acts which provide for the protection of cows such as Section 12 of the Gujarat Animal Prevention Act, 1954, Section 13 of the Maharashtra Animal Prevention Act, 1976 and Section 15 of the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964 are unconstitutional?

Court’s view

The bench of the Supreme Court including Chief Justice Dipak Misra, A.M Khanwilkar, and Dr D.Y. Chandrachud gave the judgment, for the present circumstance, watching out for all of the sensitive issues and gave express standards covering the district of preventive, remedial, and restorative measures to reduces the activities of lynching in the country.

The Supreme Court held that law enforcement organizations should really focus on the administration of law and no private individual will be allowed to take law in their grip or carry on in a style that they are basically the law. The Supreme Court was insinuating the scholarly Senior Counsel Sanjay R. Backing's thoughts wherein the competitor required the Court to take immediate and principal measures against ones self-declared cow vigilantes who were enjoying brutality and group lynching for cow protection. The Court noted Sanjay R. Fence's convenience communicated that no individual or vigilantes could include themselves for the show of hostility on the crucial perspective on an idea that a bad behavior has been executed and such a lynching or group violence should be restricted and weakened by the Central Government and the new occurrence of Shakti Vahini v. Relationship of India was refered to.

In the wake of tuning in to every one of the contentions, the Supreme Court concocted a few rules to check the rising instances of crowd lynching. The rules were made under three classes, for example preventive, remedial, and punitive measures. It was accepted that when the preventive measures would confront failure, the violations will be constrained by the remedial and punitive measures.

Preventive measure

● Police officers should use their power under Section 129 of CrPC to deal with cases of mob lynching and under circumstances where he or she thinks that a similar crime may be committed in their presence.

● Police are to register FIR under Section 153A of IPC and relevant provisions of law against individuals who spread the hateful message on social media platforms which is likely to provoke mob violence and lynching cases.
Remedial measures
● The state government shall prepare a compensation scheme in light of Section 357A of CrPC to help the victims' family.

The victim or the next of the deceased victim's kin shall receive free legal aid under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.

Punitive measures
● The government must punish such an act of deliberate negligence and misconduct, and departmental inquiry must be initiated against the individual.
● The state government are to take disciplinary actions against the officers if it found that:
The officer did not take any actions to stop the incident of lynching or mob violence despite having prior knowledge that the said incident was about to take place.
The officer did not instantly arrest and start the criminal proceedings against the culprits involved in the violence.

Judgement Analysis

This judgment sets down explicit ideas which ought to have wiped out or possibly radically diminished this wrongdoing. Some of them are examined beneath alongside the manner by which they have failed:

It is basic to take note of that the judgment has three sections as rules, in particular preventive, remedial and punitive. Much accentuation was given on the preventive part to deaden the commission of this wrongdoing in its underlying stages. The Court proposed framing an special task force to acquire knowledge investigates subjects liable to submit or actuate such offense. The Director-General of Police and Secretary of Home Department of the States were coordinated to take normal gatherings in any event once a quarter with all nodal officials and State Police Intelligence heads. The inquiry emerges whether such gatherings have been changed into the real world, and what are their results? On the off chance that the appropriate response is idealistic, it provides reason to feel ambiguous about serious their adequacy as crime percentages identifying with mob lynching are rising.

Perhaps the best strategies for controlling such wrongdoing was proposed by Senior Counsel Ms Indira Jaising. She proposed for police watch in delicate regions. No such activities have been accounted for in the preferences, for example, episodes being stopped by watching squad cars. Rather in a few cases, the relatives of the person in question and observers of the wrongdoing have revealed that delay in the appearance of the police was a huge reason for irritation of the circumstance prompting the casualty's demise and successful organization of police faculty might have kept the wrongdoing from occurring.

The Court likewise suggested that the Parliament make a specific offense for mob lynching and distribute sufficient discipline. Notwithstanding the Court's tendency for a specific law, the Centre which is answerable for enactment in Parliament didn't execute the Court's proposal. The Centre comprised a gathering of Ministers (GoM) to believe the idea of enactment to be gotten. The possibility of the production of a specific law appears to be a long way from reality considering such indolent turns of events.
While the Supreme Court refered to different wise writing of American Civil Rights development defender Martin Luther King Jr. furthermore, American Jurisprudence on Liberty and so on, it neglected to give a solid and reasonable meaning of mob lynching in its judgment which has left the Parliament open to start an unending discussion with respect to what comprises this wrongdoing and the approach and quantum of discipline. Without this truly necessary definition the wrongdoing of crowd lynching is being managed an overall way since it is somewhat covered under Section 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 323 (causing voluntary hurt), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code(IPC), 1860. This has totally disregarded the possibility of a different wrongdoing and has demolished the necessary consideration with respect to the affectability of this wrongdoing.
The Hon'ble Supreme Court's rules have likewise been disregarded with regards to the Center and express governments' inability to follow the heading to communicate on radio and TV that lynching and crowd brutality of any sort would draw in extreme outcomes under the law. The finishing up proposal of the case was a different offense for lynching; in any case, as of now, NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) neither perceives mob Lynching' as a different part of wrongdoing keeps up independent measurements on it.