The bench of Justice V. M. Deshpande & Anil S. Kilor of Bombay HC ruled that there is no prohibition on the possession of skin of dead cows or bullocks.
The court also observed that no offence would be made out under Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976.
The Court noted that the circular/notification/order which is for prohibiting possession of skin of dead cows or other animals, such circular won’t prevail over the provisions of the statute. Thus, the Court said that the contravention of any such notification or circular or order as regards possession of skin will not attract Section 188 IPC.
The Court was hearing plea of an accused praying for quashing of first Information Report for the offences punishable under Section 5-(A), 5- (B), 5-(C), 9, 9-(A) of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976, read with Section 188 IPC and Section 105, 117 of the Bombay Police Act.
A first Information Report was registered on a complaint lodged by the President of Bajrang Dal, Khamgaon as it was alleged that a Pick up Bolero van was found carrying animal’s skin like skin of dead cows .
On verification by the Animal Husbandary Department, the vehicle was carrying 187 skin of dead cows .
The Court observed,
“(Allegedly), the applicant was carrying 187 skins of cows in the van. There are no allegations that the applicant was transporting or exporting cow, bull or bullock for the purpose of slaughter in contravention of provision of the Act, 1976. There are also no allegations that the applicant purchased or sold or otherwise disposed of or offered to purchase or sell or dispose of cow, bull or bullock for slaughter.”
Regarding Section 5 (c), which prohibits possession of flesh of cow, bull or bullock, the Court observed,
“The main difference between ‘skin’ and ‘flesh’ is that the ‘skin’ is a soft outer covering organ of vertebrates and the ‘flesh’ is a soft substance of an animal body that consists of muscle and fat.”
Thus, the Court concluded that it couldn’t be said that the word ‘flesh’ used under Section 5-(C) of the Act, 1976, covers the skin of animal.
Consequently, the Court said that “no offence under Section 5-(A), 5-(B), 5-(C) attracts in the present matter and consequently Section 9 and 9-(A) also would not attract.“
The Court opined that the instant case was a fit case to exercise jurisdiction under Section 482 CrPC for quashment of the First Information Report in question.
No offence constitutes against the applicant as alleged.