On Monday, the Allahabad High Court said it was concerned about the’ frequent misuse’ of the provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, and observed that the law was being used in the state to charge innocent citizens, Live Law reported.
The court noted that the meat seized by the authorities is assumed to be beef in several cases, without any examination or confirmation.
The Single Bench of Justice Siddharth while hearing the bail application of one Rahmuddin, accused under Sections 3, 5 and 8 for the Act of cow slaughter and sale of beef observed, “The Act is being misused against innocent persons. Whenever any meat is recovered, it is normally shown as cow meat (beef) without getting it examined or analyzed by the Forensic Laboratory. In most of the cases, meat is not sent for analysis. Accused persons continue in jail for an offence that may not have been committed at all and which is triable by Magistrate Ist Class, having a maximum sentence upto 7 years.”
Proposing that if the Uttar Pradesh Cow Slaughter Prevention Act is to be enforced in letter and spirit, the court added that there is a need to take care of old or non-milking cows abandoned by owners.
“Goshalas do not accept the non-milking cows or old cows and they are left to wander on the roads. Similarly, owners of the cows after milking leave the cows to roam on roads, to drink drainage/sewer water and eat garbage, polythene, etc. Moreover, cows and cattle on the road are menace to the traffic and a number of deaths have been reported due to them,” the court said.
“In the rural areas, cattle owners, who are unable to feed their livestock, abandon them. They cannot be transported outside the state for fear of locals and police. There are no pastures now. Thus, these animals wander here and there destroying the crops. Earlier, farmers were afraid of Neelgai… now they have to save their crops from stray cows,” the order stated.
“Whether cows are on roads or on fields, their abandonment adversely affects society in a big way. Some way out has to be found out to keep them either in cow shelters or with owners, if the UP Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act is to be implemented in letter and spirit,” it added.
More than half (76) of the 139 arrests reported in the state this year , up to August 19 under the stringent National Security Act (NSA), were on cow slaughter charges, according to UP government data. Apart from NSA charges, 1,716 cases under the UP Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act were registered this year, till August 26, and over 4,000 people were arrested.
The UP Cow Slaughter Prevention Act bans the slaughter of cows and their progeny in the state, with a penalty of up to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh.