Tehseen Poonawalla vs Union of India, 2018 (3) SSC 224

Court- In the Supreme Court of India (Civil Original Jurisdiction)
Citation: 2018 (3) SSC 224
Case NO: Writ Petition (CIVIL) No 754 out of 2016
Petitioner: Tehseen S Poonawalla, Tushar Gandhi
Respondent: Union of India; Farmer Welfare and Agriculture Department; State of Gujarat; State of Maharashtra; State of Uttar Pradesh; State of Karnataka; State of Rajasthan; State of Jharkhand
Bench: Former CJI Dipak Misra, Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice A.M Khamwilkar


In this Case Tehseen Poonawalla vs Union of India, Researchers have almost recorded 66 disdainful wrongdoings and about 97% of which were merely accounted for and after the supportive acts of the Hindu patriotic legislature of the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi which came to strong control in May 2014, with the most happening in 2017.

Responding to the mercilessness of the killings for the sake of cow protection, a concerned Supreme Court panel asked India’s Parliament in July 2018 to sanction a different law to rebuff the guilty parties. A jump over into history shows that a comparable emblematic language of the untouchable relic was utilized in the early portion of the patriot development to excite huge quantities of Hindus across class, standing, and provincial partitions in British India.

In those days, it helped fashion a typical Hindu personality against a pilgrim power. Today, the image is by and by being utilized to join Hindus over various personalities. The thing that matters is that this time it is the decision party individuals, fanning and in any event, supporting scorn against Indian Muslims, seen as a danger and as pariahs.


  • Papers and magazines circled the message, as did the holy people who took it from district to locale. People were approached to contribute even as meagre as a small bunch of rice with the goal that cow asylums could be set up.
  • In that manner, the basic individual came to be a piece of development. In 1882, the development got further force when Saraswati established a panel for the protection of cows. Indeed, even the standard Hindus, whose training he had restricted, participated.
  • This was the beginning of another dialect of Hindu patriotism. It was an exceptionally composed development, with Hindus across position contrasts taking an interest. Medieval masters likewise upheld the social orders.
  • While they couldn’t be straightforwardly included under the frontier rule, their help as landowners, directed significant power, which was critical. Schoolmasters and little landholders were straightforwardly engaged with sorting out.
  • As pioneers of the network, they sorted out gatherings and, with the assistance of printed directions on banners, disclosed the need to secure the bovine. Individuals at that point took the principles to various regions, where they were held up as a model and could be changed as they suspected fit.
  • The development got a further lift in 1888 when a court in pilgrim India decided that a cow was not a consecrated and as characterized in the Indian law. It was decided that Muslims were not being insolent toward Hindu strict assumptions on the off chance that they butchered dairy animals. Mobs broke out over the issue and spread across parts of British India, including similar to Rangoon, part of present Myanmar.
  • Researchers bring up that whole populaces of towns were associated with the uproars, individuals joined across station and class.
  • Groups of individuals meandered around the nation holding onto dairy animals from butchers and herders. Networking letters were circled to activate uphold. In Bombay city (referred to now as Mumbai), 80 individuals were murdered, including the two Hindus and Muslims.


  • Whether the States and the Centre should frame a victim compensation scheme to address the issue of lynching?
  • Whether State and Central Governments should make separate laws addressing the offense of lynching?
  • Whether State cow protection laws, which protect cow vigilantes acting in ‘good faith‘ are constitutional?[1]


Article 32

  • The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed.
  • The Supreme Court shall have the power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warrant to and certiorari, whichever can be fairly appropriate, for the very enforcement of any of the rights which are conferred by this Part.
  • Without prejudice to the powers conferred on the Supreme Court by clauses (1) and (2), Parliament may by law empower any other court to exercise within the local limits of its jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme Court under clause (2).
  •  The right guaranteed by this article shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution.[2]

Article 256

  • The obligation of States and the Union The executive power of every State shall be so exercised as to ensure compliance with the laws made by Parliament and any of the existing laws which are merely applied to that State, and the executive powers of the Union shall be extended to the giving of such apt directions to a State as it may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for that purpose.


Arguments by Petitioner

  • The petitioner, who was also a social activist, had preferred that this writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, which was implemented for commanding the respondent-State Nos. 3 to 8 to take immediate and very necessary action against the cow protection groups who were indulging in grave violence, and moving further to issue the writ or straight direction to the removal of the violent contents from the social media uploaded and hosted by the said groups.

    There is also a very certain request to petition that Section 12 of the Gujarat Animal Prevention Act, 1954, Section 13 of the Maharashtra Animal Prevention Act, 1976, and Section 15 of the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964 to be declared as unconstitutional. Certain incidents and disturbing activities have also been narrated in the specific Writ Petition.
  • The Petitioners drew the Court’s attention to the rise of incidents of cow vigilantism, where private citizens violently punish people who they suspect of consuming beef. Notable examples include:

The brutal lynching of the Akhlaq in Dadri (Uttar Pradesh) over the alleged beef consumption, the scene of hanging of the two men in Jharkhand by the cow vigilantes, the aggraded flogging of Dalits in Una, and the very recent lynching of the person named Pehlu Khan in Alwar district, on the suspicion of smuggling or kidnapping a cow.

  • The petitioners challenged the provisions of cow protection laws of 6 States protecting cow vigilantes – Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand, and Karnataka. In particular, they had challenged the very provisions that prohibit any type of legal action against the persons for the actions done in the matter of ‘good faith’ under the law.[3]

Arguments by Respondent

  • Mr. Ranjit Kumar, who was the then Solicitor General, had submitted that the Union of India does not trifle and support vigilantes and that these incidents were purely a State matter.
  • The State of Gujarat and Jharkhand submitted that appropriate legal action had already been undertaken against the persons involved in these incidents.


The then Chief Justice of India, Justice Dipak Misra delivered the judgment with the enforcing that private citizens are in no position to take justice into their own hands. The judgment tended to observe that every individual should always “remain obeisant to the command of law”.

The Court also issued interim orders for the quick appointment of Nodal officers and special Highway patrolling. The State Governments should also enquire into the very causes of this communal unrest that should foster the very spirit of tolerance in order to uphold the gracious spirit

of diversity, harmony, and unity. Lynching is in the direct violation of the Constitution and the rule of law which we follow. The rights of citizens cannot be interfered with unlawfully under Article 21.

Unfortunately, the Court did not deal with the third issue which pertained to whether certain acts were unconstitutional or not.

The court issued certain guidelines to curb vigilantism:

•       Preventive Measures: State Governments ought to delegate nodal officials, bearings are given for their working, police ought to scatter crowds under S.129 of CRPC, start FIRs under S.153A of IPC, Central and State governments should stop the spread of data and broadcast the genuine outcomes of law for lynching and horde viciousness.

•       Remedial Measures: in the event of any episodes, FIRs ought to be recorded, and the Nodal official educated compelling handling through quick track courts, the casualty pay plan, and a free lawful guide.

•       Punitive Measures: Departmental move ought to be made against officials who don’t consent to the above measures as it will be viewed as an instance of wrongdoing or carelessness and the move to be made should arrive at a resolution inside a half year.

•       The Court, as a splitting decision, gave a suggestion to the Parliament to establish a different offense for lynching with satisfactory discipline.


A lynching occurred in Alwar only days after the judgment, the Supreme Court started hatred procedures for carelessness right away. Be that as it may, Akhlaq’s case is as yet stuck in court. Rajasthan and Manipur have passed Anti-Lynching Bills, however, they have not yet gotten the President’s assent. Despite the fact that the Court set down tough mandates to check the issue, there are still issues with its usage.


[1] https://www.scobserver.in/court-case/cow-vigilantism

[2] https://criminallawstudiesnluj.wordpress.com/2020/02/11/the-epidemic-of-mob-lynching-in-india-analysing-tehseen-s-poonawalla-v-union-of-india/

[3] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/981147/

Author : Rohit Raj Chittigala | College : Symbiosis Law College , Pune

You cannot copy content of this page