The home minister has only himself to blame if an impression has been created that the government is tepid in its response to the apex court’s strongly-worded insistence that Parliament enact specific legislation to contain mob lynching and curb the increasing tendency for “justice” to be delivered on the streets.

For when lynching came under repeated focus in the legislature, he added his own “if necessary” rider to the judicial directive. And that too after repeatedly playing underhand politics and diluting the gravity of their Lordships’ anxiety by contending that the recent phase of lynching was minor when contrasted when the killings in 1984 (yet again turning a blind eye to Gujarat in 2002).

The minister received a degree of “support” from the Speaker who frowned upon the issue being repeatedly raised. That it is in Parliament, not the village square or street corner that laws are passed is apparently of limited concern today to ideologically blindfolded legislators.

The Supreme Court had honoured Parliament by entrusting it with a specific responsibility, the Treasury benches appear least interested. The home minister has been very economical with details of the committee to be headed by the home secretary ~ will it comprise only North Block officers who know from whom to take their instructions? So too with the panel of ministers who will process the officials’ report and make recommendations to the Prime Minister. At the best of times committees are merely stalling tactics, this could be the worst of times…

Action at the officials’ level on emotional, political, issues seldom deliver. Alas, despite rash of killings by cow vigilantes the political leadership of the ruling entity has not sent out a warning to its cadres that “this will not do”.

It is not just a matter of Jayant Sinha and Giriraj Singh retaining ministerial appointments after felicitating convicted cow vigilantes, the “judicial inquiry” ordered into the murder in Alwar has been entrusted to an officer who does not grace even a bench in the High Court.

Adding insult to injury are a BJP chief minister, state ministers, and an RSS leader who say that cow-vigilantism will end if people stop eating beef. One goes as far as saying that the term “holy cow” originated with Jesus Christ having been born in a cattle-shed.

Fortunately, anti-blasphemy law have not been extended east of the Radcliffe Line. The minority communities have to stomach such insults that are tacitly endorsed by the leadership of the ruling entity.

The BJP president maintains a stoic silence, his focus is on 2019. And the home ministry does little more than issue “advisories” ~ appending the apex court directives. Does that suggest that officials in the states were ignorant of them, or that the ministry does not subscribe to them? Another signal to the courts? Is this the legacy Sardar Patel left for Rajnath Singh in North Block?