SC to lay down norms to prevent vandalism

The Supreme Court said nobody can burn down properties, either public or private.

The Supreme Court on Friday said it would lay down guidelines to prevent incidents of vandalism across the country, saying nobody can burn down properties, either public or private.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said the court would not wait for the government to bring an amendment to the law to fix responsibility on officers concerned.

The court said its guidelines would envisage action against those instigating and indulging in violence, regardless of religion.

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

“Such incidents of violent protests and rioting happen almost every week in one or other part of the country,” he said. He cited protests over the Maratha reservation in Maharashtra, nation-wide violence following the apex court’s verdict on the SC/ST Act and the recent incidents of violence, including overturning of vehicles by ‘Kanwarias’.

When the film “Padmaavat” was to be released, one group openly threatened to cut the nose of the lead actor, he said. “Nothing has happened. No FIR.”

In Delhi, whenever there is an unauthorised construction, the local police in-charge is held liable. The police officer should be personally liable for such vandalism, he said. “Fix the responsibility on the officers concerned.”

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

“We will not wait for the amendment. This is a grave situation and this must stop,” the bench said. It will pass judgement as was done in lynching cases.

The bench reserved its judgement on a plea filed by the ‘Kodungallur Film Society’ by advocate P V Dinesh seeking enforcement of apex court’s directions passed in 2009 in ‘In Re Destruction of Public and Private Properties vs Govt of AP’.

The top court had in 2009 held that organisers of any protest shall be personally held accountable for the loss of private and public property. The bench had also ordered police authorities to videograph such protests so that accountability could be fixed.

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SC to lay down norms to prevent vandalism

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