Attorney General KK Venugopal on Friday asked the Supreme Court to fix responsibility on authorities such as the police superintendent of an area in cases of vandalism and rioting, reported Live Law.
The Supreme Court said there were “grave incidents of vandalism” of private and public properties by various groups during protests across the country, and it would lay down guidelines to prevent vandalism by mobs.
Venugopal argued that such incidents of violent protests and rioting happen almost every week. He referred to the Maratha protests in Maharashtra, the protest against the top court’s verdict in the SC/ST Act and the riots before the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Padmaavat. He said the government has been contemplating an amendment in the existing law to deal with such protests.
The court said it will soon issue an order. “We will not wait for the amendment,” said the court, according to PTI. “This is a grave situation and this must stop.” The bench added that the destruction of private property, even if an FIR is not filed, is a cognisable offence and the police must act, reported The Times of India.
The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud also took note of videos showing vehicles being vandalised by Kanwar pilgrims in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Kanwar is an annual pilgrimage of Shiva devotees where as part of a ritual, pilgrims carry water from the Ganga river in containers suspended on the side of a pole. The pilgrims, called Kanwariyas, walk barefoot, often across hundreds of kilometres.
The Delhi Police on Thursday arrested a Kanwar pilgrim in connection with vandalising a car in New Delhi’s Moti Nagar on Tuesday evening. The police filed a case against unidentified people after a group of Kanwar pilgrims were caught destroying the car on video. The same day, a group of Kanwariyas allegedly vandalised a police vehicle after a scuffle with residents in Bulandshahr. The police have filed a case against 58 people, including 50 unidentified persons.
The court was hearing a plea by Kodungallur Film Society that sought to frame guidelines to deter acts of violence and hooliganism carried out in the name of public protests. The plea was filed in the background of the agitation by Karni Sena against Padmaavat.
In 2009, the Supreme Court had passed a judgement asking for videography of every procession and had ordered that the responsibility be placed on organisers if protesters indulged in vandalism.