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UP: Allahabad High Court Grants Bail to Muslim Youth, Calls out Misuse of Cow Slaughter Law

The court has also directed the Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) to ask investigation officers to ensure fair investigation in all criminal cases and cases of cow slaughter.
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Allahabad High Court. Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI

Lucknow: The Allahabad High Court on Monday granted anticipatory bail to a person booked under the Uttar Pradesh Prevention Of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, calling the action against him a "glaring example" of misuse of penal law.

The court expressed concern over misusing the anti-cow slaughter law in Uttar Pradesh while granting bail to the Muslim youth.

The court has also directed the Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) to ask investigation officers to ensure fair investigation in all criminal cases and cases of cow slaughter, in particular after the investigation officer (IO) in a case of alleged cow slaughter sent a sample of cow dung for forensic analysis.

A forensic laboratory in Lucknow took a jibe at the state police and returned the cow dung sample with a report saying it was not meant to examine cow dung. No other evidence was recovered from the accused.

The court was hearing a plea moved by a person named Nizamuddin, a native of Sitapur who was booked in 2022 under sections 3, 5 and 8 of the stringent Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act.

In August 2022, Nizamuddin and three others were accused of slaughtering a calf in the Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh. The FIR was lodged at Reusa Police Station on the complaint of the village watchman, who alleged that a calf had been slaughtered in the sugarcane field of another Muslim man named Jamil. The police had said that the first informant had found a cord and semi-digested cow dung at the site of the alleged crime. The first information report also noted that some locals had seen the accused person taking a calf to the field. The accused, however, pleaded innocence.

However, Justice Faiz Alam Khan, after hearing both sides, noted that the investigating officer in the case did not recover the remains of the animal from any of the accused persons. The police had only found a rope and some cow dung, which it cited as evidence, the judge observed.

Terming the case a "glaring example of misuse of penal law", Khan stated that the FIR was lodged and the charge sheet was filed based on "apprehension and suspicion", the judge said in his order.

While granting relief to Nizamuddin, Khan instructed the UP police chief to take necessary action "to remind the investigating officers of their duty to ensure fair investigation in all the criminal cases in general and the cases pertaining to cow slaughter in particular".

"Keeping cows and calves as pet animals was a common practice in the villages irrespective of caste, creed, and religion. The duty of the State is to "ensure fair investigation which in the considered opinion of this Court has not been done in the instant case", noted Khan.

This is not an isolated case where the Allahabad High Court slammed the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for "misusing of penal law". It has been reported in the past that the Uttar Pradesh government has been taking severe actions against alleged cow slaughter cases, including charging the accused under the National Security Act.

In a similar case, the court granted bail in 2020 to one Rahmuddin, who was allegedly booked in a cow slaughter case.

Granting bail, Justice Sidharth, in his order, had said the misuse of the Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, has been leading to innocent persons languishing in jail.

"The Cow Slaughter Act is grossly being misused against innocent persons. In most cases, 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 cases, meat is not sent for analysis. Accused persons continue to remain in jail for an offence that may not have been committed at all," the high court order had stated.

Commenting over the judgment, SR Darapuri, a former senior police officer of UP and human rights activist, told NewsClick, "The Cow Slaughter Act has been misused in the past as well and is still going on. The FIR should be registered after the prima facie confirmed it was cow meat, but to target one community, the UP Police is misusing the law. This is happening continuously because, to date, no action has been taken against the police for misusing the law in any such case, nor has any compensation been given to any victim."

The former police officer said, "Based on the suspicion/possibility of cow meat, the police arrest youth. They do not bother to wait for a forensic report, even when the forensic report gives a negative report."

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