New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine a plea seeking direction to the Centre and some states to take action against so-called cow vigilantes who are allegedly indulging in violence and committing atrocities against Dalits and minorities.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy asked the Centre and six states-- Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Jharkhand -- to file their replies to the plea.
"We will examine the plea. Reply to be filed by the respondents," the bench said.
The apex court, however, did not issue any notice to the Centre and the states and asked the petitioner, Congress activist Tehseen S Poonawalla, to serve the copy of petitioner to the parties.
Poonawalla, in his plea, said violence committed by these 'Gau Raksha' groups have reached to such proportions that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently declared them as people who are "destroying the society".
The plea alleged that these groups were committing atrocities against Dalits and minorities in the name of protection of cows and other bovines and they needed to be "regulated and banned in the interest of social harmony, public morality and law and order in the country".
"The menace caused by the so-called cow protection groups is spreading fast to every nook and corner of the country and is creating disharmony among various communities and castes," the petition said.
It also sought a direction to remove alleged "violent content" uploaded on social media and hosted by the cow protection groups.
The plea sought to declare as "unconstitutional" section 12 of the Gujarat Animal Prevention Act, 1954, Section 13 of Maharashtra Animal Prevention Act, 1976, and Section 15 of Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964, which provide for protection of persons acting in good faith under the Act or rules.
"These laws and the protection granted therewith act as a catalyst to violence perpetrated by these vigilante groups," it said.
Seeking action against the vigilantes, the petition said the atrocities committed by them were punishable under various provisions of IPC and under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of atrocities) Act, 1989.