Chief Justice Dipak Misra said federal and state governments must take effective steps to contain the cow-protection groups.
“Appoint police officers to stop cow protection groups from taking law into their hands,” Misra said after hearing three public interest litigation cases.
Appearing on behalf of petitioners, advocate Indira Jaisingh said there had been more than 60 incidents where people had been assaulted or beaten to death after allegations that they had killed cows or were in possession of beef.
Cow slaughter is banned in several states and stringent punishment has been introduced for offenders.
The police registered more than three dozen cases in the last two years against vigilantes for targeting people who eat beef or work in the meat and leather industries.