Nobody Has the Right to Become a Self-Appointed Guardian of the Law and Can Forcibly Administer His or Her Own Interpretation of the Law on Others, Says Supreme Court in Mob Violence

Nobody Has the Right to Become a Self-Appointed Guardian of the Law and Can Forcibly Administer His or Her Own Interpretation of the Law on Others, Says Supreme Court in Mob Violence

New Delhi, October 1: The Supreme Court on Monday while passing a slew of directions in order to avert rising episodes of mob violence nation wide, made it obvious that the person, who would be involved either in initiating or instigating any act of violence causing death or any kind of damage to public or private property, shall personally face criminal action and will also be made liable to compensate to the victims of the violence. It was held,

".......may be granted conditional bail upon depositing the quantified loss caused due to such violence or furnishing security for such quantified loss."

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud on its direction also additionally asked the State's police to manage a cyber information portal on their websites where people can submit reports of the incidents of mob violence and also destruction of public and private properties as well.

The directions by the Top Court made it clear that during organisation of any program especially a cultural program, films and expression of artistic freedom, if such organisation or any individual found with weapons would be prima facie presumed to have an intention to commit violence and such persons would be deal accordingly as per law.

The Court directed that the states should formulate a trained and efficient Rapid Response Teams district-wise, who can expeditiously deal with incidents of mob violence. The Court also maintained,

"The authorities must ensure that arrests of miscreants found on the spot are done in the right earnest."

The Court directed the authorities concerned to consider about the different option especially non-lethal in order to control crowd during such incidents. The Court added,

".......consider the use of non-lethal crowd-control devices, like water cannons and tear gas, which cause minimum injury to people but at the same time, act as an effective deterrent against mob force."

It was suggested to affix additional responsibilities over nodal officers, appointed as per the earlier judgment given in the mob lynching case.

The Court also directed that nodal officers can use social media platforms to issue ".........to restore peace and to stop/control rumours. This can extend to issuing communications on local TV channels, radio stations, social media like Twitter etc".

"In case of more than one person involved in such act of violence, each one of them shall be jointly, severally and vicariously liable to pay the quantified loss."

The court further stated that person who was part of such violence would be booked under Sections 153A (promoting enmity), 295A ( deliberate and malicious acts to outrage religious feelings), 298 ( intend to wound religious feelings)  and section 495 (mischief) of the Indian Penal Code.

Furthermore, any kind of delays either in filing FIRs or in conducting probes regarding the incidents of mob violence should be considered to be inaction on the part of nodal officers responsible for preventing mob violence against vulnerable cultural organisations and property under their jurisdiction.

The bench said,

"Status reports of the investigation(s)/trial(s) concerning such offences .........shall be uploaded on the official website of the concerned state police on a regular basis."

The Court said that these remedial measures should be implemented by the Centre and states governments at the earliest and most preferably within a period of eight weeks.

The Court also referred to its directives issued in cases in connection with the cow vigilantism, mob lynching and honour killings and reminded that all those measures are also to be followed by the states to ensure the prevention of such incidents.

The Court prominently addressed,

"Nobody has the right to become a self-appointed guardian of the law and forcibly administer his or her own interpretation of the law on others, especially not with violent means. Mob violence runs against the very core of our established legal principles since it signals chaos and lawlessness and the state has a duty to protect its citizens against the illegal and reprehensible acts of such groups."