SC Makes States Accountable, Now For Centre As "Hollow Statements" on Cow VIolence Will Not Do: Tushar Gandhi
THE CITIZEN BUREAU
NEW DELHI: “It is time that the governments ---centre and state--- accept responsibility for the lynchings, rehabilitate and compensate these brutal attacks,” said Gandh’s great grandson Tushar Gandhi explaining the rationale for approaching the courts on this issue that has cause grief and suffering in so many households. And created a sense of fear across the country, with cow vigilantes attacking helpless citizens at will.
The Supreme Court that is in the midst of a larger hearing on several issues connected with the lynchings, in an interim order has said, “all states are under an obligation to compensate victims of cow vigilante violence. At the same time law and order has to have primacy and anyone violating it must be dealt with sternly.” The court also directed the states to frame schemes to compensate victims of crime, including those of cow vigilantism as per the Criminal Procedure Code.
Tushar Gandhi told The Citizen from Mumbai, that he had moved the courts as , “it needed to be done as the people responsible were not taking action. We had to do something so that the people of this country would feel something was being done, that someone is responsible and that law and order machinery can be made to work.”
He said that the cow lynchings across the states make it clear that “the administration was not interested in taking any kind of steps and were shrugging off responsibility with the centre saying law and order was the responsbility of the states, and the states ignoring the violence altogether.”
“Something had to be done,” Tushar Gandhi said, “ the animal pulling the cart needed to be flogged. I know this is not a good example but it really was about this.”
He was represented by well known lawyer Indira Jaising. Asked what had been achieved so far in what is set to be a long drawn out legal battle that will also examine the centre’s responsibility, Tushar Gandhi said, “the decision empowers citizens, as hence forth any such incident happns they can nail responsibility on the governments. The court has very clearly made the chief of police, the chief secretary, the state government responsible for such lynchings.”
As he said, that while he was sure that “the court order is not going to create a revolutionary reform in the attitude of the states, it dpes empower ordinary people to hold the governments responsible and they can be held in contempt of court. It creates some accountability.”
Asked if individual cases had been taken up Tushar Gandhi said that they had taken up the cases of Junaid and Pehlu Khan whose families are in dire straits.He said that the court did not take up the specific cases as it was looking at the larger picture. But it did direct the petitioners and others to approach the High Courts with the cases seeking special rulings.
The next day of the hearing is October 31. Several issues related to the violence unleashed by cow vigilantes are up for scruitny through the petitions, and as Tushar Gandhi said an important aspect was the role of the central government where such an issue was concerned. The centre tends to shrug off all responsibility for even horrific crime by insisting that law and order is for the states but as he said, it cannot do that, and has to accept responsibility of action.
Tushar Gandhi said that he has approached the court also to urge it to issue directions to the Centre accordingly. “The centre has to be put in the dock, the Prime Minister can’t keep making hollow statements and not take action,” he said.