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Court upholds ban on slaughter of bulls, bullocks

Legal Correspondent

Bench agrees that cows were being butchered illegally

New Delhi: A seven-Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a Gujarat legislation banning the slaughter of bulls and bullocks (cow and its progeny).

The Bench, comprising Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti, Justice B.N. Agrawal, Justice GT.P. Mathur, Justice C.K. Thakker and Justice P.K. Balasubramanyan, struck down a Gujarat High Court judgment quashing the legislation banning slaughter of bulls and bullocks. However, Justice A.K. Mathur gave a dissenting judgment.

The High Court had said that there could not be a total ban on the slaughter of bulls and bullocks above the age of 16 years. The Gujarat Government in its appeal had said that the order was passed in public interest keeping in mind the provisions of Article 31C to give effect to the Directive Principles, which included Article 51(A)(g), providing that all should have compassion for living creatures.

The State Government had inserted Section 5 (1)(A) in the Bombay (Animal Prevention) Act 1954 to ban slaughter of bulls and bullocks. Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab challenged this before the High Court and it was allowed.

Various State Governments like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh at different points of time had enacted laws to put a total ban on slaughter of cows and bulls and bullocks, heifers and calves.

Three five-judge Benches of the Supreme Court had earlier upheld the total ban on cow slaughter but it was not extended to bulls and bullocks. When the Gujarat Government filed an appeal against the High Court judgment quashing the legislation, it was referred to a seven-Judge Bench.

Allowing the appeal, the seven-Judge Bench agreed with the contention that in the guise of permission to kill bulls and bullocks above 16 years, cows and calves were being butchered illegally. It was difficult for authorities to implement and save cows from being slaughtered because the meat of aged bulls and bullocks and cows are indistinguishable after slaughter, the Bench held.

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