There is no prohibition on the possession of skin of dead animals and in absence of such prohibition no offence would be made out under Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has ruled quashing an FIR for alleged cow slaughter.
A division bench of Justices VM Deshpande and Anil S Kilor held that even if a circular/ notification/ order is issued by the state government, prohibiting possession of skin, such circular, notification or order, then it won't prevail over the provisions of the statute and to that extent, it would be in contravention with the statute.
The court was hearing a plea, filed by a man seeking quashing of a 2018 FIR against him under several relevant sections of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976, the Indian Penal Code and of the Bombay Police Act.
During the hearing of the matter, the prosecution had alleged that a pick-up van was found carrying animal's skin and therefore, on a complaint lodged by the President of Bajrang Dal, Khamgaon, an FIR was registered. It submitted the vehicle was found carrying cow skin.
"(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 a 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," the bench noted in its order dated December 14.
Noting that no offence constitutes against the applicant as alleged, the High Court opined that the instant case was a fit case to exercise jurisdiction under Section 482 Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) for quashing of the FIR in question.
Pointing out 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, 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 an animal.