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Image: Live Law

The Allahabad High Court on Thursday quashed the detention of three men under the National Security Act in an alleged cow slaughter case in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur district.

The Court was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by families of the three arrested men and in its order stated that cutting beef in the privacy of homes forced by poverty, unemployment or hunger is not a matter of disturbance to ‘public order,’ Live Law reported.

“The petitioners and co-accused were mutely arrested when they were found cutting beef in the wee hours of the morning in the house of the petitioners. We also do not know who either the cause was poverty, lack of employment or hunger, which may have compelled the petitioners and the other co-accused to take such a step,” the judgement read.

In July 2020, Sitapur police had raided a house where five people were found engaged in cutting beef pieces to sell them later. Two people, Parvez and Irfan were arrested on the spot however, three others namely Rahmatullah, Karim, and Rafi fled the scene but were later on arrested by the police.

Also read: Are we living in a police state? Justice Gupta Questions UAPA, Sedition and NSA

Subsequently, an FIR under the U.P. Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955 and the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 was registered at Police Station Talgaon.

While the three men were inside the jail, in August 2020 a detention order under NSA was served to them. The order was passed, according to the State of UP because the acts of three arrested men and their co-accused had adversely affected the communal harmony between Hindu and Muslim communities.

The State further argued that the act also created an atmosphere of fear and terror and hence public order.

However, the Allahabad High Court bench of Justices Ramesh Sinha and Saroj Yadav observed that issue of public order is dependent on whether the act was performed in a  public space in an aggressive manner and with disregard to the sentiments of other communities and stated that the act performed by the three detenues was done in secrecy and away from the public eye with no disturbance to the public order.

“…n 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,” the Bench said quashing NSA.

Earlier this year the Allahabad High Court had reprimanded the state of Uttar Pradesh for abuse of the NSA by the state security forces, The Indian Express reported.

Also read: Cow Slaughter Act being misused against Innocents: Allahabad High Court

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February 2024
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