The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court ruled that possession of skin of dead animals would not amount to an offence under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976 which prohibits slaughtering, importing, exporting, and possessing beef.
The petition was filed by one Mr. Shafiqullaha Khan who was the driver of a van which was carrying the skin of animals and therefore a complaint was filed against him under section 5-A (Prohibition on Transport and Export of Cow, Bull or Bullock for Slaughter), 5-B (Prohibition on sale, purchase, disposal in any other manner of cow, bull or bullock), 5-C (Prohibition on possession of flesh of cow, bull or bullock), 9, 9-A of the act of 1976.
The Court while hearing the matter said that it is a matter of interpretation, in this case as there were 187 skins of cows found, but it cannot be said that he was exporting or transporting the cow for the purpose of slaughtering.
As far as Section 5-C is concerned, the expression used in the Statute is ‘flesh of any cow bull or bullock slaughtered’, so as per the court, the difference between the ‘flesh’ and ‘skin’ needs to be understood.
The court explains the above as,
“The flesh is the soft substance, consisting of muscle and fat, that is found between the skin and bones of a human or an animal. 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.”
Therefore, no allegations can be formed against the petitioner under the said sections.
The Court held,
“Moreover, in absence of any statutory provision, which prohibits possession of skin of a dead animal, even if, any circular or notification or order has been issued by the State Government, prohibiting possession of skin, such circular, notification or order which has no statutory force will not prevail over the provisions of the statute and to that extent, it would be in contravention with the statute.”
The Bench comprised of Justice V. M. Deshpande & Anil S. Kilor in the case has quashed the FIR filed against the driver.
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