Madhya Pradesh High Court: S.K. Awasthi, J., partly allowed the revision petition filed under Section 397 of the CrPC after the applicant was aggrieved by the conviction order passed by First Additional Sessions Judge against him.

According to the prosecution, the applicant was rashly and negligently driving a ‘Bolero’, and as a result, the vehicle turned turtle near a school and he fled away from the spot. Six cows were found tied with rope in the said vehicle cruelly, out of which three cows were found dead, while two cows were in an injured condition. It was alleged that the applicant was transporting these cows for slaughtering them. An FIR was lodged for offences under Sections 279, 429 of Penal Code, 1860 read with Sections 4, 6, 9 of Madhya Pradesh Govansh Vadh Pratishedh Adhiniyam, 2004 and Section 11(D) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The Police reached the spot and seized the vehicle as well as the cow progeny. The dead body of the cows was sent to the veterinary hospital for postmortem and injured cows were sent for treatment.

During his trial, the applicant abjured his guilt and claimed to have been falsely implicated in the present case. The trial court convicted him under Section 11(D) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and Section 6 of Madhya Pradesh Govansh Vadh Pratishedh Adhiniyam for rigorous imprisonment a year with a fine of Rs 50 and Rs 5000. On appeal before the Sessions Court, his appeal was allowed in the part where the sentence was reduced from 1 year to 6 months.

The applicant contended that the evidence produced against him during the trial was not enough to prove the charges framed against him. The Courts had therefore misread and misappreciated the evidence on record and thereby came to the wrong conclusion unwarranted by law. He further stated that he was neither present on the spot nor he was named in the FIR. Furthermore, no cow or vehicle was seized from his possession. Thus, there was no nexus between him and the alleged crime.

The High Court held that the applicant had been implicated for the alleged crime solely on the basis that he was the registered owner of the vehicle. One of the witnesses produced by the prosecution had stated that the cows were being transported for slaughter purpose, however, this fact was not found placed in his statement recorded under Section 161 of the CrPC, therefore, the same cannot be taken into consideration. In the absence of evidence, the guilt of the applicant had not been proved beyond reasonable grounds that the cows were being transported in the vehicle for slaughter purpose. Therefore, the trial court, as well as the appellate court, was wrong in convicting the appellant for the alleged offences. The Court allowed the petition in part by acquitting him from the offence under Section 6 of Madhya Pradesh Govansh Vadh Pratishedh Adhiniyam, but maintained the conviction under Section 11(D) of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 as there was sufficient material available on record to show that the cows were being transported in the Bolero vehicle in a cruel manner.[Saddam v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2019 SCC OnLine MP 2444, decided on 05-09-2019]

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