Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 3, 2020

Cow Vigilantism and India’s Evolving Human Rights Framework

Ravindra Pratap


The paper seeks to understand India’s evolving rights framework in the backdrop of cow vigilantism. To that end it discusses the human right to food and nutrition, international discussion on minority rights issues in India and the relevant legal and constitutional discussion in India. It finds that India’s rights framework has evolved since proclamation of India as a Republic in 1950 based on the supremacy of its written constitution containing fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy interpreted finally by its Supreme Court. The government took a wise step by not challenging a judicial rebalancing of the rights framework in response to certain executive measures and the Supreme Court interpreted the right to life to include not only the right to the choice of food but also the right to privacy and thereby underscored the obligation of the State to compensate the victims of cow vigilante violence. However, a constitutional polity and secular state would do all well if it did any further necessary to better guard against any recurrence of the breach of civil peace, much less violence, on purely secular issues, including by strengthening and increasing dialogue with all representative communities in all its decision-making on such matters.

Corresponding author: Ravindra Pratap, Associate Professor and Associate Dean, Faculty of Legal Studies, South Asian University, New Delhi, India, E-mail: .

Published Online: 2020-07-03

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