Lucknow: Expressing concern over the misuse of Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act against innocent persons and raising the question of credibility of evidence submitted by state police in these cases, the Allahabad High Court has said that whenever any meat is recovered, it is normally shown as cow meat (beef) without being examined in a forensic laboratory.
Granting bail to one accused Rahimuddin of Shamli district of Western Uttar Pradesh who was allegedly involved in cow slaughter, Justice Sidharth in his order said the misuse of the Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, has been leading to innocent persons languishing in jail.
“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 analysed 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 up to seven years.” the High Court order said in its order.
In the order passed on October 19 but made available days later, the high court also observed that there was need to take care of old or non-milking cows abandoned by their owners if the law against the slaughter of cows is to be implemented in letter and spirit.
"Goshalas do not accept non-milking cows or old cows and they are left to wander on the roads. In 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.
"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 cow shelters or with the owners, if UP Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act is to be implemented in letter and spirit," the order said.
Rahmuddin, the petitioner in this case, had said there were no specific allegations against him in the First Information Report (FIR) and he was not arrested from the place of the incident.
Further, no exercise was done by police to check whether the meat recovered was cow meat or not.
Rihai Manch, president Mohammad Shoaib, an Uttar Pradesh civil rights organisation, welcomed the judgement. He said, "Not only is the UP Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, being misused in the state against Muslims or innocent persons, but every draconian law, be it Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, National Security Act (NSA) or Goonda Act slapped mostly against Muslims. It is not hidden that in every case of alleged cow slaughter, the administration declares accused before without waiting for forensic report to come. In every case, they keep either mutton or buffalo meat and make the case of cow slaughter to frame Muslims in false cases. These are all fake cases so there is no investigation happens either or forensic report comes ever in public domain. The police fail to gather evidence against the accused in every case."
Questioning the credibility of evidence submitted by UP Police who involve in such cases, Vibhuti Narain Rai, retired director general of UP police, said that it was a right observation by HC.
"The state government should feel ashamed for misusing the law against innocent people. As far I know, there are only 4-5 forensic laboratories in Uttar Pradesh and it takes more than a month to examine the meat. But, ironically both police and other government machinery raise a hue and cry against the alleged accused that has sometimes resulted in violence against the minority community," Rai told NewsClick. He said the Yogi Adityanath government should take this matter seriously and should stop arresting innocent persons who are mostly from weaker backgrounds.
S.R. Darapuri, former Inspector General of UP police, said that prosecution of Muslims in cow slaughter cases was being done as part of a political agenda. Apart from this case, more than 5,000 encounters have taken place across the state and mostly Muslims were killed, followed dalits or backward class people. Mostly National Security Act, Goonda Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act are used against these people. It is evident that in UP, its 'police raj' not 'government raj'” he said.
According to the data collected by the UP government, over half (76) of the 139 arrests took place in the state under the stringent NSA till August 19, 2020, were on charges of cow slaughter. Apart from NSA, 1,716 cases had been registered this year, till August 26, under the UP Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act and over 4,000 people were arrested.
As per data, closure reports were filed in 32 cases after the police failed to gather evidence against the accused.
UP Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, Cow Slaughter, Mob Lynching UP, Allahabad High Court