Issuing guidelines including video-recording of vandalism and hooliganism, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that whoever causes damage to public or private property will be made liable to compensate the victims of violence.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Dr D.Y. Chandrachud said the authorities must ensure that arrests of miscreants found on the spot are done in right earnest.
It was the last judgement delivered by the current Chief Justice Dipak Misra in which he has directed the state governments to set up rapid response teams preferably district-wise and specially train them to deal with mob violence and deploy these teams around vulnerable cultural establishments.
The order came on a public interest litigation filed by Kodungallur Film Society, which had sought framing of guidelines to deter acts of vandalism.
"This Court has time and again underscored the supremacy of law and that one must not forget that administration of law can only be done by law-enforcing agencies recognised by law," the court said.
"Nobody has the right to become a self-appointed guardian of law and forcibly administer his or her own interpretation of the law on others, especially with violent means. Mob violence runs against the very core of our established legal principles since it signals chaos and lawlessness. The state has a duty to protect its citizens against illegal and reprehensible acts of such groups," the court said.
Observing loss to property during such incident, the court directed authorities to video-record the events and, if required, hire private video operators to record the events or request the media for information on the incident.
Claims arising out of such acts of violence should be dealt with in the manner prescribed under the destruction of public and private properties, the court said, directing police officers to file first information reports and complete investigation as far as possible within the statutory period.
"Any failure to file FIRs and conduct investigations within the statutory period without sufficient cause should be considered as dereliction of duty on behalf of the officer concerned and can be proceeded against by way of departmental action in right earnest," the court said.
As liability of person causing violence, the court ordered agencies to take appropriate action against such persons and the leader of the organisations involved in such acts under provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
The court also directed the governments to set up special helplines, create and maintain a cyber information portal on its website and on its internet-based applications for reporting instances of mob violence and destruction of public and private properties.
It also ordered that the authorities may consider taking appropriate steps as per law including to impose reasonable restrictions on the social media and internet-based communication services or mobile applications.
The court directed that authorities to take coordinated efforts and issue messages across various audio-visual mediums including local TV channels, radio stations, social media like Twitter to restore peace and to control rumours.
The court directed nodal officers to coordinate with local emergency services, including police stations, fire brigades, hospital, medical services and disaster management authorities during incidents of mob violence in order to have a comprehensive and consolidated response to the situation.
The authorities must consider the use of non-lethal crowd-control devices, like water cannons and tear gas, which cause minimum injury to people but at the same time, act as an effective deterrent against mob force, the court said.
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