Supreme Court takes strong line on vandalism during protests

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday termed "grave" the incidents of vandalism of private and public properties by various groups during protests across the country and said it will not wait for the government to amend the law.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said it will issue directions in the matter.

Attorney General KK Venugopal told the bench that responsibility should be fixed on authorities like the superintendent of the police of the area in cases of vandalism and rioting.

Such incidents of violent protests and rioting happen almost every week in one or another part of the country, he said, and referred to protests on the Maratha reservation in Maharashtra, nation-wide violence following the apex court verdict in the SC/ST matter and the recent incidents of violence involving ‘Kanwarias'.

When the film ‘Padmavat' was to be released, one group openly threatened to cut the nose of the lead actress, he said, and added, "Nothing has happened. No FIR."

"Then what is your suggestion," the bench asked the top law officer.

"Fix the responsibility on the officers concerned," Venugopal said, pointing out that unauthorised constructions in Delhi had stopped after it was decided that the DDA officer concerned would be held accountable for such construction in his/her area.

Venugopal said the government has been contemplating an amendment in the existing law to deal with such kind of protests and the courts should allow it to change the law suitably.

"We will not wait for the amendment. This is a grave situation and this must stop," the bench said.

The bench then reserved the order on a plea filed by the Kodungallur Film Society filed through lawyer P V Dinesh seeking enforcement of the apex court's directions passed in 2009 in one of the verdicts.

Issuing a slew of directions, the apex court had said in 2009 that organisers of any protests shall be personally held accountable for the loss of private and public property in the stir.

The bench had also ordered police authorities to videograph such protests so accountability could be fixed.

 

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PTI