The Supreme Court on Friday stayed proceedings under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act against a woman forest officer in Telangana, who was attacked and injured by a mob led by the brother of a ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi MLA, PTI reported. On June 30, a mob attacked Kagaznagar Forest Range Officer C Anitha when she had gone to a village with other officials to plant saplings, led by the brother of Sirpur MLA Koneru Kannappa.

On July 8, a tribal woman complained that Anitha and her staff had abused her and others when they were working in their field. Based on this allegation, a case under the SC/ST Act was filed against Anitha.

Advocate ADN Rao, assisting the top court as an amicus curiae in matters related to forest and environment, brought the matter to the Supreme Court’s attention. Rao told a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta on Friday that a similar incident has recently happened in Maharashtra, with a mob attacking a forest officer.

“Should they [forest officials] be provided protection?” the bench asked Rao. When Rao mentioned that Anitha had been booked under the SC/ST Act, the bench stayed the proceedings against her.

However, the judges refused to see the photograph of injuries Anitha suffered in the attack. Rao said the court-appointed Central Empowered Committee will also inquire into the matter. But the bench said: “What CEC will examine? We will examine it. It is not an environmental issue. It is a law and order issue and we will examine it.”

A video clip of the attack went viral on social media. Following this, the police arrested Koneru Krishna Rao, brother of Sirpur MLA Koneru Kannappa, and 13 others on charges of attempt to murder and rioting.