In a hard-hitting judgment, the Allahabad High Court has just recently on October 19, 2020 in a latest, landmark and extremely laudable judgment titled Rahmu @ Rahmuddin vs State of UP in Criminal Misc. Bail Application No. 34008 of 2020 expressed its most serious concerns over frequent misuse of the provisions of Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, for implicating innocent persons. This was so held by the Allahabad High Court while hearing the bail application of one Rahmuddin who stood accused of cow slaughter and sale of beef under Sections 3, 5 and 8 of the said Act. The strong remarks were made by the Allahabad High Court after the Court was informed that the accused-applicant had been in jail for over a month even when allegedly, there is no allegation against him in the FIR.
To start with, the ball is set rolling in para 1 of this notable judgment authored by Justice Siddharth wherein it is observed that, “Heard Sri Onkar Singh, learned counsel for the applicant and learned A.G.A for the State. The instant bail application has been filed on behalf of the applicants, Rahmu @ Rahmuddin, with a prayer to release them on bail in Case Crime No. 147 of 2020, under Section 3/5/8 U.P. Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, Police Station – Thana Bhawan, District – Shamli, during pendency of trial.”
It would be pertinent to mention here what went a long way in applicants favour which must always be borne in mind and which is then stated ahead in this judgment stating that, “There is no allegation against the applicant in the FIR. Counsel for the applicant has submitted that the applicant was not arrested from the spot. The offence is triable by Magistrate. The applicant has criminal history of one case to his credit and is in jail since 05.08.2020.”
Most significantly, what is now stated forms the bedrock of this latest, landmark and laudable judgment and which minces no words to state quite upfront that, “The offence is triable by Magistrate and maximum sentence is of 7 years. 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.”
What is worst is then stated ahead wherein it is observed that, “Accused persons continue in jail for an offence that may not have been committed at all and which is triable by Magistrate 1st Class, having maximum sentence upto 7 years.”
Bluntly put: How can this be ever allowed to happen under any circumstances? How can any law justify its misuse against innocent persons? How can any government allow this to happen right under its very nose?
Also, it must be asked: What is the government doing to check its gross abuse? Why can’t adequate safeguards be instilled so as to ensure that an innocent does not have to suffer for no fault?
What is equally condemnable is then stated ahead by lamenting that, “Whenever cows are shown to be recovered, no proper recovery memo is prepared and one does not know where cows go after recovery. Goshalas do not accept the non-milching cows or old cows and they are left to wander on the roads. Similarly, owner of the cows after mulching, 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 number of deaths have been reported due to them. In the rural areas cattle owners who are unable to feed their live stock, 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’ (Vanroj an antelope) now they have to save their crops from the stray cows. Whether cows are on roads or on fields their abandonment adversely affects the society in a big way. Some way out has to be found out to keep them either in the cow shelters or with the owners, if the U.P. Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act is to be implemented in letter and spirit.”
Needless to say, we all know fully what has been stated by the Allahabad High Court in this leading judgment. Why then can’t adequate provisions be inserted to check the abuse of the law and also to see that cows are not abandoned on roads or on fields as it adversely affects the society which has already been noted by the Court above? Only a strong political will is needed to bring about the necessary changes!
While attesting its seal of approval for the bail to be granted to the applicant, Justice Siddharth of the Allahabad High Court then goes on to observe that, “Considering the material on record as well as the dictum of Apex Court in the case of Dataram Singh Vs State of U.P. and another, reported in (2018) 3 SCC 22, larger mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, let the applicant involved in the aforesaid case crime be released on bail on his furnishing a personal bond and two sureties each of the like amount to the satisfaction of the court concerned, subject to the following conditions:-
1. The applicant shall not tamper with the prosecution evidence by intimidating/pressurizing the witnesses, during the investigation or trial.
2. The applicant shall cooperate in the trial sincerely without seeking any adjournment.
3. The applicant shall not indulge in any criminal activity or commission of any crime after being released on bail.
4. The applicant shall remain present before the trial court on each date fixed, either personally or through his counsel. In case of his absence, the trial court may proceed against him under Section 229-A of the Indian Penal Code.
5. In case, the applicant misuse the liberty of bail and in order to secure their presence proclamation under Section 82 Cr.P.C. is issued and the applicant fails to appear before the Court on the date fixed in such proclamation, then, the trial court shall initiate proceedings against him, in accordance with law, under Section 174-A of the Indian Penal Code.
6. The applicant shall remain present, in person, before the trial court on the dates fixed for (i) opening of the case, (ii) framing of charge and (iii) recording of statement under Section 133 Cr.P.C. If in the opinion of the trial court default of this condition is deliberate or without sufficient cause, then it shall be open for the trial court to treat such default as abuse of liberty of his bail and proceed against him in accordance with law.
7. In case the applicant has been enlarged on short term bail as per the order of committee constituted under the orders of Hon’ble Supreme Court his bail shall be effective after the period of short term bail comes to an end.
8. The applicant shall be enlarged on bail on execution of personal bond without sureties till normal functioning of the courts is restored. The accused will furnish sureties to the satisfaction of the court below within a month after normal functioning of the courts are restored.
9. The party shall file computer generated copy of such order downloaded from the official website of High Court Allahabad.
10. The concerned Court/Authority/Official shall verify the authenticity of such computerized copy of the order from the official website of High Court Allahabad and shall make a declaration of such verification in writing.
Finally, it is then held that, “In case of breach of any of the above conditions, it shall be a ground for cancellation of bail.”
In essence, the Allahabad High Court in this notable case has commendably flagged the misuse of Cow Slaughter Act which it is high time now must be checked immediately. It must be ensured that no innocent person suffers a jail term for no fault. Meat must be always properly examined or analyzed by the Forensic Laboratory in order to get to the bottom of the matter.
At present, we see most unfortunately that in most of the cases, meat is not sent for analysis. This reprehensible tendency must be stopped now and it must be strictly ensured that meat is always sent for analysis so that no innocent person suffers an irreversible damage for no fault. It must be ensured that whenever cows are shown to be recovered, there is prepared a proper recovery memo and it must be also disclosed that where have the cows gone. All this have been directed by none other than the Allahabad High Court in this very leading case which cannot be overlooked under any circumstances! There can be no denying it!