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Supreme Court to identify officials, fix responsibility for order

The Supreme Court has said that it had enough of vandalism and destruction of public property perpetrated by organised groups and would not wait for Parliament to enact a law to deal with the problem. The court said that it would frame guidelines fixing responsibility on officials responsible for preventing it and those indulging in such acts.

“This must stop,” a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said while hearing on a petition filed by a Kerala film society seeking to prevent vandalism of public property which occurred every time a controversial movie such as Padmavat was released.

Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal conceded vandalism of public property under some pretext or the other had become a problem. “It has become a free for all,” he said. Agitations happen in some part of the country or the other and public property is vandalised, he said. He referred to the recent instance when some kanwarias ran amok in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

“Every week we have agitations… We had the Maratha protests and SC/ST protests. Your lordships might have seen media reports on how Kanwarias damaged cars, overturned it, including police cars.” He referred to the happenings in the run-up to the release of Padmavat.

“Some outfit gave a call to cut off the nose of the heroine. Will any civilised country tolerate this? What happened to the person who gave such threat? Nothing. No FIR was filed,” he said.

The AG said the responsibility of law and order must be fixed on specific officials to check official apathy. “We must fix responsibility on police to act fast in such a situation,” he said. He pointed out that unauthorised constructions in Delhi went down after the government decided to hold the DDA officer concerned accountable. Though he tried to prevail upon the court to let the government deal with it by enacting a central law, the court wouldn’t hear of it.

“We will not wait for the amendment. This is a grave situation and must stop,” the bench said but reserved its order on the petition which had sought enforcement of a 2009 ruling of the court to make those indulging in vandalism pay for the destruction of public property. In that ruling, the court had ordered that organisers of any protest be held liable for damage. It had also directed police to video record such protests. Little has been done on this front since then. “If you want to be a hero, you can, by destroying your own property,” the CJI said before concluding.

Source: Economic Times