The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre and state governments to take urgent steps to curb incidents of cow vigilantism. The apex court has asked each state to appoint a senior police official to serve as the nodal officer in each district to ensure that such incidents do not take place.

“Centre says there is a law in place,” Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, according to LiveLaw. “People cannot be allowed to take law into their own hands. This must stop. This is not permissible.”

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the Supreme Court that the law has been in place to take care of such incidents. “We know laws are there, but what action has been taken?” CJI Misra said in response to Mehta.

The bench also asked the Centre and the states to submit an affidavit apprising the court on what steps have been taken so far to prevent incidents of cow vigilantism. It gave them four weeks’ time to submit the report.

Indira Jaisingh, senior advocate appearing for one of the petitioners, told the Supreme Court that it was important that the Centre and states cooperate to ensure vigilantism does not grow, reported Mint. “The statement by the Centre in July saying that it is a state subject is not sufficient. They cannot wash their hands off the national issue and say that it is a law and order problem,” she said.

The Supreme Court was hearing three petitions on cases challenging certain laws that protect cow vigilante groups in the country. In April, the Supreme Court had asked Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka to file a report on the rising incidents of cow protectionism.

In July, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that it was the states’ duty to handle incidents of cow vigilantism.