The Supreme Court on Tuesday said incidents of cow vigilantism were unacceptable, and it was up to the states to prevent them, PTI reported. However, a bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra reserved its verdict on a petition seeking guidelines to curb cow vigilantism.

The court warned against linking mob violence with religion or caste and said “a victim is a victim”, according to NDTV. “Nobody can take law into their own hands,” Misra said. “It is the obligation of the states to see these incidents are prevented.”

The bench, which also included Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said this was a law and order problem and each state has to be responsible. Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha told the court that the Centre was trying to deal with the situation.

The court was hearing a contempt of court petition filed by Tarun Gandhi, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, alleging that Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh had not followed an earlier order by the court.

The bench demanded that a mechanism to curb acts of violence be set up. “Who will stop them? the bench asked. “This must stop. Some kind of planned and well-coordinated action is required by the governments so that vigilantism does not grow.”

The court asked the governments of Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to submit their replies on the matter, India Legal reported. The bench said, “Let the compliance reports be filed. Nobody can wash off their hands [from their duty]. We will give directions to all the states.”

In September 2017, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre and state governments to take urgent steps to curb incidents of cow vigilantism. The court had 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.

In January, while hearing Gandhi’s plea, the bench asked the three state governments to explain why they had not followed its order.