Hyderabad: The detention of three people booked under the National Security Act (NSA) for cow slaughter was squashed by the Allahabad high court. The court stated that the slaughtering of a cow inside one’s residential premises does not constitute an issue of public order.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the court was listening to the habeas corpus (wrongful detention) petitions filed by the families of Irfan, Rahmatullah, and Parvez who were arrested for alleged cow slaughter in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur district in July 2020.
On August 5, the order of the court said that the “act of slaughtering a cow in the secrecy of one’s own house in the wee hours probably because of poverty or lack of employment or hunger, would perhaps only involve a law and order issue and could not be said to stand on the same footing as a situation where a number of cattle have been slaughtered outside in public view and the public transport of their flesh or an incident where an aggressive attack is made by the slaughterers against the complaining public, which may involve infractions of public order.”
National Security Act has been called into question in the past as it grants the state arbitrary powers to arrest someone without a formal charge or trial. The court ordered the release of the three persons and said there was “no material for reaching the conclusion that the petitioners would repeat the activity in future”.
The three people were booked under different sections of the UP Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955 and Section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013. The court was informed that another FIR had been registered under the UP Gangsters Act and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986.
According to The Indian Express, the court document’s statements say that the Talgaon police had received information that Irfan, Rahmatullah and Parvez and two butchers from Biswan village were cutting beef to sell it and raided the house of the petitioners. Two of the accused, Parvez and Irfan, were arrested on the spot along with beef.
The high court noted the fact that when the news spread, “villagers of Hindu community gathered and communal harmony was disturbed” and that the police had managed to restore public order after a lot of time.
The counsel for the accused argued that since the petitioners were in the custody of the police authorities for a substantive offence and an FIR was also registered under the Gangsters Act, “there was no need to direct their preventive detention merely on the basis of a solitary incident of cutting beef… in the secrecy of their home”.
A recent investigation by the Indian Express had found that between January 2018 and December 2020, the Allahabad high court had quashed 94 of the 120 NSA cases calling the very constitutionality of the law into question.