Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where the District Magistrate had directed confiscation of a Truck under the M.P. Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 2004 despite the criminal proceedings having culminated into acquittal, the bench of KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy*, JJ has held that in a case where the offender/accused are acquitted in the Criminal Prosecution, the judgment given in the Criminal Trial should be factored in by the District Magistrate while deciding the confiscation proceeding.

Explaining the scheme of the 2004 Act read with the provisions of CrPC, the Court observed that the objective of the M.P. Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 2004 is punitive and deterrent in nature. Section 11 of the 2004 Act and Rule 5 of M.P Govansh Vadh Pratishedh Rules, 2012, allows for seizure and confiscation of vehicle, in case of violation of sections 4,5,6, 6A and 6B.

“The confiscation proceeding, before the District Magistrate, is different from criminal prosecution. However, both may run simultaneously, to facilitate speedy and effective adjudication with regard to confiscation of the means used for committing the offence.”

Further, the District Magistrate has the power to independently adjudicate cases of violations under Sections 4, 5, 6, 6A and 6B of the 2004 Act and pass order of confiscation in case of violation. However, in a case where the offender/accused are acquitted in the Criminal Prosecution, the judgment given in the Criminal Trial should be factored in by the District Magistrate while deciding the confiscation proceeding.

Hence, applying the aforementioned law at the case at hand, it was held that the appellant’s truck, loaded with cow progeny, was confiscated on account of the criminal proceedings alone and therefore, under the applicable law, the vehicle cannot be withheld and then confiscated by the State, when the original proceedings have culminated into acquittal. Noticeably, it is also not the projected case that there is a likelihood that the appellant’s truck will be used for committing similar offence.

In the present case, the order of acquittal was passed as evidence was missing to connect the accused with the charges.

“The confiscation of the appellant’s truck when he is acquitted in the Criminal prosecution, amounts to arbitrary deprivation of his property and violates the right guaranteed to each person under Article 300A. Therefore, the circumstances here are compelling to conclude that the District Magistrate’s order of Confiscation (ignoring the Trial Court’s judgment of acquittal), is not only arbitrary but also inconsistent with the legal requirements.”

The Court also rejected State Counsel’s submission that the burden of proof is on the truck owner in the process of confiscation, and observed that Section 13A of the 2004 Act, which shifts the burden of proof, is not applicable for the confiscation proceedings but for the process of prosecution. By virtue of Section 13A of the 2004 Act, the burden on the State authority to legally justify the confiscation order, cannot be shifted to the person facing the confiscation proceeding.

“By reason of an order of confiscation, a person is deprived of the enjoyment of his property. Article 300A of the Constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law. Therefore, to deprive any person of their property, it is necessary for the State, inter-alia, to establish that the property was illegally obtained or is part of the proceeds of crime or the deprivation is warranted for public purpose or public interest.”

[Abdul Vahab v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 262, decided on 04.03.2022]

*Judgment by: Justice Hrishikesh Roy


For appellant: Advocate Pulkit Tare

For State: Advocate Abhinav Shrivastava

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Dr Yogendra Kumar Srivastava, J., held that the Magistrate is denuded of his power to pass any order under Sections 451, 452 and 457 CrPC for release of a vehicle seized for alleged violation of provisions of the U.P. Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act.

Instant application was filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to set aside the decision of Additional Sessions Judge passed in case under Sections 3/5-A/8 of the Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955 and Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960.

An FIR was lodged under the above-stated sections, the vehicle stated to be carrying the animals was seized under Section 5-A of the PCSA and the applicant who claimed to be the owner of the vehicle in question, filed an application before the court of ACJM-I, Ballia, seeking release of the vehicle, which was rejected.

Analysis, Law and Decision

The Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955 is an Act to prevent the slaughter of cows and their progeny in the State of Uttar Pradesh.

Section 5-A of the PCSA would indicate that the transportation of cow, etc., is regulated in terms thereof. Sub-section (1) of Section 5-A contains a clear prohibition on transportation of any cow or bull or bullock, the slaughter whereof in any place in Uttar Pradesh is punishable under the Act, from any place within the State to any place outside the State, except under a permit to be issued by an officer authorised by the State Government in this behalf by notified order and except in accordance with the terms and conditions of such permit. Sub-section (4) mandates that the form of permit, the form of application therefor and the procedure for disposal of such application shall be such as may be prescribed.

Confiscation and Seizure

PCSA is a “local law” within the meaning of Section 5 of the Code and in view thereof, the general provisions contained under Sections 451 of the Code with regard to custody and disposal of the property pending trial or the power for making an order for disposal of property at the conclusion of trial under Section 452 or the procedure under Section 457 would therefore, be subject to the powers exercisable under Section 5-A of the PCSA which makes a special provision with regard to confiscation and seizure of the vehicle used for transport in contravention of the provisions of the Act.

Bench held that the vehicle in question having been confiscated and seized in exercise of powers under Section 5-A of the PCSA, which was in the nature of a special Act and a local law under Section 5 of the Code, the same would clearly have the effect of denuding the magistrate his power to pass any order under Sections 451, 452 and 457 of the Code for release of the vehicle seized for alleged violation of the provisions of the Act.

Therefore, the application under Section 482 of the Code was dismissed. [Yas Mohammad v. State of U.P., 2021 SCC OnLine All 608, decided on 2-09-2021]

Advocates before the Court:

Counsel for Applicant:- Ramesh Kumar Chaurasia

Counsel for Opposite Party:- G.A.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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]

Uttarakhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of V.K. Bisht, J. dismissed a writ petition that sought interference with the investigation in a criminal case.

The petitioners were accused of cow slaughtering. It was alleged that on receiving information about the slaughtering of cow, the patrolling team reached village Harjoli and found that the petitioners were indulged in the said activity. The petitioners managed to escape; however, equipments meant for slaughtering, weighing machine and cow beef (approx. 350 kg) was found from the spot. A criminal case was registered against the petitioners for offences punishable under Sections 3, 5, and 11 of Uttarakhand Protection of Cow Progeny Act, 2007. The petitioners filed the instant petition praying to quash the impugned FIR.

On consideration of the record, the High Court held that relief, as prayed for by the appellant, could not be granted. The Court relied on the Supreme Court decision in State of W.B. v. Swapna Kumar, (1982) 1 SCC 561, to hold that if the FIR discloses a prima facie commission of an offence, the Court will not normally interfere with the investigation, as doing so would be to trench upon the lawful power of the police to investigate into a congnizable offence. From, the perusal of the FIR, the High Court held that it discloses prima facie commission of offence. Therefore, the Court held that it was not a case where relief could have been provided to the petitioner. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed. [Kala v. State of Uttarakhand,2018 SCC OnLine Utt 547, dated 18-6-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The High Court dismissed a habeas corpus petition brought before it in a case of cow slaughter in front of a temple. The apprehension of disturbance of public order due to hurting of religious sentiments led to the arrest of the petitioner.

The Sub-Inspector of the area received information that the petitioner, along with a group of people, is slaughtering a cow or its progeny near a temple. On apprehension of communal riots, the police arrested three persons including the petitioner. The FIR was lodged under Sections 147, 148, 149 and 307 IPC and the order of detention was passed under Section 3(2) of the National Security Act.

It was stated by the Court that the question of application of mind in the detention order is to be decided by comparison of detention of detention order with the dossier of the sponsoring body. The various changes in the order at multiple places indicate application of mind. Regarding the question of discriminatory approach of the authority it has been stated that there is no parity amongst all the accused and detention depends on the satisfaction of subjective matter by the authority. These are individual cases and parity or lack thereof is not a determining factor to claim discrimination. The final question in the case was whether the act affected public order or law and order. It was conclusively determined that when the cow was slaughtered in a public place and in full public view, it leads to hurting of religious sentiments and incites communal tension. Hence it cannot be treated as a case of law and order only but also that of public order.

The Court further observed that the purpose of preventive detention is not to punish but to prevent. The main aim of this is to protect the public and the society at large and prevent the person from committing a crime which would disrupt public life. On all these grounds the petition was dismissed. [Wasi thru. Mohd. Rafi v. State of U.P., 2017 SCC OnLine All 1880, decided on 03.07.2017]


Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Court issued notice to the Central Government over the Notification issued by it banning the sale of cattle in the animal markets for slaughter. The matter will next be heard on 11.07.2017.

The Court was hearing the petition filed by a Hyderabad based NGO that contended that the Notification was discriminatory and unconstitutional as it deprived the cattle traders of their right to livelihood and freedom of conscience and religion. The Centre, however, claimed that intention behind the notification was to have a regulatory regime on cattle trade across the country. Earlier, the Madras High Court had imposed stay upon the Notification.

Source: PTI

Punajb and Haryana High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Deciding a revision petition filed against the judgment passed by the trial court which held the petitioners as well as two other accused guilty of committing an offence punishable under Section 4-B/8 of the Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, the bench of Hari Pal Verma, J., held that the trial court has rightly appreciated the evidence on record while holding the petitioners guilty of the charge framed against them.

In a case where an FIR was registered against the petitioners under Section 4-B/8 of the 1955 Act, the trial court sentenced the accused to undergo simple imprisonment for six months and to pay a fine of Rs.1,000/- each. Aggrieved against this judgment, the petitioners and two other accused, filed two appeals which were dismissed. So, the petitioners  preferred the present revision petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court praying that the sentence awarded to all the petitioners be reduced to the period already undergone by them. On the other hand, the State Council contended that as the petitioners have committed a serious crime which has caused hurt to the religious sentiments of people at large so they should not be showed any leniency.

In the light of the above arguments, the Court held that there is no infirmity, illegality or perversity in the findings given by both the Courts. The court further directed that the sentence awarded to the petitioners shall be reduced to the period already undergone by them subject to their payment of cost of Rs.9,000/- each. However, the sentence of fine imposed by the trial Court and affirmed by the appellate Court shall remain intact. Hence the court opined that except with modification in the quantum of sentence, as indicated herein above, the revision petition stands dismissed. [Mohd. Aslam v. State of Haryana, 2016 SCC OnLine P&H 4226, decided 13 May 2016]


Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Deciding a petition challenging various provisions of Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act 1976 as amended by Maharashtra  Preservation Act 1995, a bench consisting A.S. Oka and S.C. Gupte, J.J., struck down two amendments of  Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act 1976 and upheld the constitutional validity of rest of the provisions.

In the case, where a complete prohibition on slaughter of bulls and bullocks was imposed in addition to the slaughter of cows by an Amendment Act of 1995, the petitioners contended that incorporation of Section 5D infringes upon the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 which includes right to have food of one’s own choice and section 9B imposes a negative duty upon a person who is found in possession of the meat. To the contrary, it was contended by the Advocate General that right to choose food cannot be expanded to include a particular kind of food. It was further submitted that the amendment was in consonance with  Article 47, 48, 48A and 51A of Directive Principles of State Policy. However, the Court disagreed with the contentions of the Advocate General.

Considering the aforesaid arguments, the Court adopted the principle of ‘conscious possession’ which states that ‘possession with the knowledge that the flesh is of cow, bull or bullock which is slaughtered in contravention of Section 5 of Animal Preservation Act’ and upheld the validity of Section 5C. The Court declared Section 5D and 9B unconstitutional and not fair, just and reasonable. The Court was of the view that prohibition of possession of flesh of cow, bull or bullock which is slaughtered outside the State is an infringement of right to privacy which is embodied in Article 21 which is an integral part of personal liberty. [Sheikh Zahid Mukhtar v State of Maharashtra, 2016 SCC OnLine Bom 2600, decided on May 6, 2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: While dismissing a petition filed in public interest seeking a direction to the respondent to prohibit cow slaughtering and make arrangements to maximise environmental and economic benefits from the cow to mankind, a bench of G Rohini CJ and R.S. Endlaw J. stated that the issue of ban on slaughter of cows is beyond the domain of judicial decision making and is a policy matter in which the courts under the doctrine of separation of powers are not entitled to transgress.

The Court referred Mohd. Hanif Quareshi v. State of Bihar AIR 1958 SC 731, Manubhai Nandlal Amorsey v. Popatlal Manilal Joshi (1969) 1 SCC 372 and State of Gujarat v. Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab Jamat (2005) 8 SCC 534 and stated that the Legislature whenever had deemed necessary has framed appropriate laws in this regard and challenge thereto has also been considered by the Court.

The Court relied on Bal Ram Bali v. Union of India, (2007) 6 SCC 805 where it was held that the Court cannot issue any direction for ban on slaughter of cows as it is a matter of policy on which decision has to be taken by the government, and a complete ban can only be imposed by enactment of an appropriate legislation by the legislature in this regard. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the petition. [Sadh Foundation v. Union of India, 2015 SCC Online Del 14138, decided on 17-12-2015].