The Supreme Court on Friday directed that the nodal officers as per the list furnished by the Attorney General take necessary steps to prevent acts of violence, discrimination and other coercive acts against Kashmiris and other minorities in the wake of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack.
Further, the appointment of these officers will be given wide publicity by the Ministry of Home Affairs in all states so that all acts of assault, intimidation, social boycott and threat can be brought to the attention of nodal officer.
"We have also gone through the advisories issued by the Home Ministry to the Chief Secretaries and the DGPs of all states. These advisories already issue shall be reiterated from time to time. The Chief Secretaries, the DGPs and the Police Commissioner of Delhi are directed to take prompt and necessary action to prevent all incidents of threat, assault, social boycott and other coercive acts in the aftermath of the terrorist attack of February 14", ordered the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
Allowing the states of Punjab and Maharashtra to be impleaded as respondents, the court issued notice. "The petition was filed in respect of nine states. But since I mentioned it yesterday and until today, 10 additional incidents have come to light, some in two new states of Punjab and Maharashtra...", submitted the petitioner Colin Gonsalves. As he sought to describe the most recent instance of violence, the Chief Justice inquired what relief the Senior Counsel was looking for in the petition.
"I want an order similar to the lynching cases. We want the seniormost officer in the states to act as the nodal officer and step in to prevent such episodes. We want for a website to be created and his number to be made available for anybody to immediately contact him", replied Gonsalves.
When the Chief Justice observed that the order on behalf of the nodal officers was a final order in the cow vigilantism case which could not be passed at the present stage, the Senior Advocate clarified that even in the lynching matter it was issued at the inception.
Another Advocate attempted to draw the bench's attention to incidents where students had gone missing. In his turn, AG K. K. Venugopal advanced that even before the said terrorist act, Kashmiri students were found to be vulnerable in the rest of the country and the government of India found it necessary to extend protection. "Nodal officers have been appointed in all states and UTs and their names and numbers are available. This list was last updated in 2018...besides, necessary Advisories have been issued. Steps have been taken by the Home Ministry particularly in respect of students residing outside of J & K and grievances can be reported on a specific number.
"This is an earlier list? In what connection?", asked the Chief Justice.
"This is especially for J & K, directed to the Chief Secretaries and the DGPs of all states to circumvent incidents of threats to and intimidation of Kashmiri people...we are only in a position to issue advisories. We can't say 'do this' or 'do that'...the DGPs are directly taking steps in this regard...", said the AG, in view of police, public order, prisons, criminal law and criminal procedure being subjects of the State and Concurrent Lists.