Posted On 07/11/2011 By In Animal Laws, Cruelty against dogs, Legal Precedence, Municipal Corporations (BBMP, GMC, MCGM, GHMC etc) With 71 Views

Is sacrifice of cows allowed at the time of Bakr-Id in India, is it a personal question or is there legal precedence: Cow slaughter at the time of Bakr-Id/ W.P. 16749 (W) of 2011. (PIL) Rajesh Yadav & Ors. Vs. State of West Bengal & Ors

Is sacrifice/slaughter of cows allowed on Bakr-Id in India? Is it a personal choice? What does the India law say?

The Supreme Court of India, in the matters of M. H. Qureshi vs. State of Bihar reported in AIR 1958 SC 731, and State of West Bengal & Ors. vs. Ashutosh Lahiri and Others reported in AIR 1995 SC 464, and the Calcutta High Court in the matters of Rajesh Yadav & Ors. vs. State of West Bengal & Ors., and Kedarnath Brahmachari & Ors. vs. The State of West Bengal & Ors. reported in 1982 (II) CHN 273, have all held that:

  • Any slaughter which is not a part of the RELIGIOUS REQUIREMENT of Muslims, is not permitted in law; and
  • The fact “that a substantial part of the Muslim community does take to cow slaughter on such an occasion” does not make it a part of the religious requirement of Muslims on the occasion of Bakr Eid, and therefore, cannot be regarded as permitted, or exempt from the rigor of the law.

The Supreme Court of India, in the matters of M. H. Qureshi vs. State of Bihar reported in AIR 1958 SC 731, and State of West Bengal & Ors. vs. Ashutosh Lahiri and Others reported in AIR 1995 SC 464, and the Calcutta High Court in the matters of Rajesh Yadav & Ors. vs. State of West Bengal & Ors., and Kedarnath Brahmachari & Ors. vs. The State of West Bengal & Ors. reported in 1982 (II) CHN 273, have all held that :

Any slaughter which is not a part of the RELIGIOUS REQUIREMENT of Muslims, is not permitted in law ; and

The fact “that a substantial part of the Muslim community does take to cow slaughter on such an occasion” does not make it a part of the religious requirement of Muslims on the occasion of Bakr Eid, and therefore, cannot be regarded as permitted, or exempt from the rigor of the law.

Extract from judgment of the Calcutta High Court, that refers to the other 3 judgments mentioned above :

13.10.2011.

W.P. 16749 (W) of 2011.

(PIL)

Rajesh Yadav & Ors. Vs. State of West Bengal & Ors.

——– excerpts of the judgment —–

Since decades, the point has cropped up whether the sacrifice of the cow on Bakr id Day is an essential part of the religious requirement of the Musalmans, the Division Bench of this Court in case of Kedarnath Brahmachari & Ors. vs. The State of West Bengal & Ors. reported in 1982 (II) CHN 273 held :

“Next we proceed to consider the case of the petitioners on its merit we find that in the case of M. H. Qureshi v. State of Bihar AIR 1958 SC 731 the Supreme Court had gone into the disputed point specifically when it was held that sacrifice of a cow on Bakr id Day is not an obligatory overt act for a Musalman to exhibit his religious belief and ideas. The very contention in this regard which has been put forward before us by the learned Advocate General, namely, that a substantial part of the Muslim community does take to cow slaughter on such an occasion was also advanced before the Supreme Court on that occasion but the Supreme Court rejected the said contention in holding that notwithstanding such sacrifice by a number of Musalmans, such slaughter cannot be considered to be a part of religious requirement. In the present case, we find that when respondent nos. 2 to 16 granting exemptions under S.12 and permitting cow slaughter on the Bakr id Day, they are doing so for no purpose other than religious purpose. But there, the said respondents are totally over looking that such slaughter cannot be a religious purpose because it is not a part of the religious requirement for the Musalman that a cow or that any of the scheduled animals required to be sacrificed in observing Bakar id. A sacrifice which is not a part of the religious requirement cannot, in our view, be sanctioned on the ground of religious purpose within the meaning of S. 12 of the said Act. In that view, we cannot but except the contention of Mr. Chakravarti that exemptions under S. 12 of the said Act which are being granted for slaughter of cows on the Bakar id Day are really de hors the statute not being within the sanction of the said provision.”

The Apex Court in case of State of West Bengal & Ors. vs. Ashutosh Lahiri and others reported in AIR 1995 SC 464 laid down the proposition that the sacrifice of the cows on auspicious day of Bakr id is not imperative but optional religious rituals in following words.

“ ******* In this connection, Das C.J., referred to the historical background regarding cow slaughtering from the times of Mughal Emperors. Mughal Emperor Babar saw the wisdom of prohibiting the slaughter of cows as and by way of religious sacrifice and directed his son Humayun to follow this. Similarly, Emperors Akbar, Jehangir and Ahmed Shah, it is said, prohibited cow slaughter. In the light of this historical background it was held that total ban on cows slaughter did not offend Art. 25 (1) of Constitution. In view of this settled legal position it becomes obvious that if there is no fundamental right of Muslim to insist on slaughter of healthy cow on Bakri Idd day, it cannot be a valid ground for exemption by the State under S 12 which would in turn enable slaughtering of such cows on Bakri Idd. The contention of learned counsel for the appellant that Art. 25 (1) of the Constitution deals with essential religious practices while S. 12 of the Act may cover even optional religious practices is not acceptable. No such meaning can be assigned to such an exemption cause which seeks to whittle down and dilute the main provision of the Act, namely S.4 which is the very heart of the Act. If the appellants’ contention is accepted then the State case exempt from the operation of the Act, the slaughter of healthy cows even for non-essential religious, medicinal or research purpose, as we have to give the same meaning to the three purposes, namely, religious, medicinal or research purpose, as envisaged by Sec. 12. It becomes obvious that if for fructifying any medicinal or research purpose it is not necessary or essential to permit slaughter of healthy cow, then there would be no occasion for the State to invoke exemption power under S. 12 of the Act for such a purpose. Similarly it has to be held that if it is not necessary or essential to permit slaughter of a healthy cow for any religious purpose it would be equally not open to the State to invoke its exemption power under S. 12 for such a religious purpose. We, therefore, entirely concur with the view of the High Court that slaughtering of healthy cows on Bakri Idd is not essential or required for religious purpose of Muslims or in other words it is not a part of religious requirement of a Muslim that a cow must be necessarily scarified for earning religious merit on Bakri Idd. *** ****”

——–

In view of above, we expect and hope that the State shall make all efforts or take all endeavours to see that the provision of the West Bengal Animal Slaughter Control Act, 1950 is not violated or flouted in any manner whatsoever.

Let this matter appear before the regular Bench on the reopening day.

(Harish Tandon, J.) (Soumen Sen, J.)

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