"Was she a terrorist?" the judges asked angrily.
The state government said that a magistrate will determine accountability for the beating on the roadside last week, which was filmed on a cell-phone by a passer-by, and broadcast on news channels including NDTV.
" What will the inquiry do?" asked the angry judges. "It (the assault) has been seen by millions of people... our experience shows the policemen will be reinstated after 3 months," they said.
The head of the Punjab police force has been ordered to submit details of how the police officers who attacked the woman have been penalised.
Her family says that she was hit after she complained of sexual harassment by a truck driver. The police said that she tried to prevent them from arresting her father, who was allegedly drunk in public, but acknowledged that the attack on her was unjustifiable.
The Supreme Court also made the point that while the young woman was being beaten, nobody tried to help her. "What is the accountability of citizens? People were standing around ..what were they doing? Are we becoming a senseless society? This happens every day in all parts of the country," they said.
Last week, the court demanded explanations for police brutality from the governments of Punjab and Bihar, where teachers protesting for a pay hike in Patna were hit by constables with batons and tear gas.