"What About Udaipur Tailor?" Supreme Court Asks Amid Plea Over Lynchings

The petitioners argued the "rampant rise in mob violence and lynching" was due to a "general narrative of ostracisation" faced by minorities.

'What About Udaipur Tailor?' Supreme Court Asks Amid Plea Over Lynchings

The accused, Riyaz Akhtari and Ghouse Mohammad, were arrested within hours of the incident.

New Delhi:

The killing of Kanhaiya Lal - the tailor hacked to death outside his shop in broad daylight in Rajasthan's Udaipur in June 2022 - featured in the Supreme Court Tuesday, as it heard a PIL, or public interest litigation, red-flagging increasing mob violence against minorities, including those lynched by cow vigilantes, and seeking immediate interim financial relief for the families of victims.

A bench of Justice BR Gavai, Justice Aravind Kumar, and Justice Sandeep Mehta referred to the Kanhaiya Lal murder and asked petitioning lawyers to not be selective when presenting such cases.

"What about that tailor in Rajasthan... Kanhaiya Lal... who was lynched," the court asked, to which Advocate Nizam Pasha, representing the petitioners, acknowledged it had not been mentioned.

"You cannot be selective when all states are there..." the court responded.

Kanhaiya Lal was brutally killed allegedly after he shared a social media post in support of Nupur Sharma, an ex Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson who made remarks about Prophet Mohammad.

To this the counsel for the state of Gujarat said the PIL was specifically highlighting the lynching of Muslims only. "This is just mob lynching of Muslims," senior advocate Archana Pathak Dave said.

"How can it be selective? The State has to protect people of all communities," she said.

"Yes... you have to ensure it is not selective at all, if all states are there..." the court added.

Advocate Pasha countered saying, "Only Muslims are being lynched... this is a statement of fact."

"Please be cautious of what you are submitting to the court..." Justice Gavai answered.

The matter was then postponed to after the summer vacation, which runs from May 20 to July 7.

In July last year the court sought responses from the centre and six states - Maharashtra, Odisha, Bihar, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh - to the PIL filed by the women's wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The PIL claimed a lack of action by these states despite a 2018 Supreme Court ruling directing tough stances on hate crimes, including lynching by cow vigilantes.

The petitioners had argued the "rampant rise in mob violence and lynching" was due to a "general narrative of ostracisation" faced by minorities and "natural consequence of inaction by the State".

In today's hearing, the court noted that so far only Haryana and Madhya Pradesh had filed responses regarding action taken. The court then gave the other states six weeks to file their statements.

It was in this context that Justice Aravind Kumar asked about the killing of Kanhaiya Lal.