Mere Possession of meat not an offence: Allahabad HC grants bail to accused under UP Cow Slaughter Act

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30.5 kg. of meat was recovered during a police raid in a house.  The accused alleged that he was merely a painter and was doing his job of painting in the house at the time of the raid.

The Allahabad High Court recently allowed bail to a man who was accused under the provisions of the UP Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1956. Court noted that there was nothing on record to show that the accused had been involved in cow slaughter or he was selling or transporting beef. 

Mere possession of meat by itself cannot amount to committing, abetting, or attempting an offence under section 3 of the Act No. 1 of 1956, said the bench of Justice Vikram D Chauhan.

In the month of March this year, the Uttar Pradesh police conducted a raid on a house in Puranpur, District Pilibhit. During the raid, around 30.5 kg. of meat was recovered. Thereafter, police apprehended the present accused along with one other person and filed a case under Section 3/5/5-A/8 of the Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act. 

Seeking relief, the accused's counsel argued before the high court that the accused had been falsely implicated in the case. He claimed that the present accused was a painter and he was only doing his job of painting in the house when the raid was conducted.

The counsel further submitted that there was no independent witness of the said recovery of meat and also the procedure for seizure as provided under the Criminal Procedure Code had not been followed by the police. 

Importantly, he contended that against the present accused, no allegation of slaughter was there and there was no report to show that the meat recovered was beef.

Therefore, while stressing that there was no other evidence linking the present accused with the alleged recovery, his counsel pressed for bail. 

On the other hand, the government counsel argued that the Act of 1956 was enacted to prohibit and prevent the slaughter of cows and their progeny in Uttar Pradesh, and since the accused had been found to have committed an offence under the said Act, he was not entitled to bail.

However, the court noted that no material had been shown by counsel for the State to suggest that the accused was selling or transporting or offering for sale or transport or cause to be sold or transported beef or beef products.

"...mere carrying of meat by any person, by itself cannot amount to sale or transport of beef or beef products unless it is shown by cogent and sufficient evidence that the substance recovered is beef," said the court while stressing that there was no laboratory report to show that in the present case, the recovered meat was beef. 

In view of the above, the court held that prima facie the accused was not guilty under the provisions of U.P. Act No. 1 of 1956.

Accordingly, court allowed the accused bail on furnishing a personal bond and two sureties each in the like amount to the satisfaction of the court concerned.

"It is settled principle of law that the object of bail is to secure the attendance of the accused at the trial. No material particulars or circumstances suggestive of the applicant fleeing from justice or thwarting the course of justice or creating other troubles in the shape of repeating offences or intimidating witnesses and the like have been shown by learned AGA for the State," observed the court. 

Case Title: Ibran @ Sheru v State of UP