There is no prohibition in possessing skins of dead animals and the intention of the Parliament in the relevant statue is clear regarding in by only focusing on the word ‘flesh’ and not ‘skin’. This ratio was laid down by the Bombay High Court presided over by J. V.M. Deshpande & J. A.S. Kilor in the case of Shafiquallah Kha Ashfaqullha Kha Vs. State of Maharashtra & Anr., [Criminal Application (APL) No. 688 of 2018].
The brief facts of the case are that an FIR was lodged by the Bajrang Dal president alleging that the Applicant’s vehicle was found to be carrying 187 skins of cow species. The animal husbandry confirmed that the skin was of different cow species. The FIR consisted that the possession of skin was illegal. Aggrieved by the FIR of the Police the Applicant filed the present application to quash the FIR.
The Applicant contended that the Applicant was merely a driver who was transporting the skin to a Merchant who had a valid license for selling raw hide. Further, there was no contravention of any section of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976. The Prosecution’s case is that the Applicant is liable for the alleged crimes committed under Section 5-(A), 5-(B), 5-(C) and 9-(A) of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act 1976.
The division bench of the Bombay High Court allowed the Application in the present case and quashed the FIR. The Court firstly analyzed the relevant section of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976. The Court was of the opinion that the Sections cited by the Prosecution prohibit transfer and sale of cows or bullocks for the slaughter but in this case only skin of the dead cows was being transported there was no contravention of the above given sections. Further, there was no contravention of Section 5-(C) of the Act as it only prohibited possession of the ‘flesh’ of cows, bulls and bullocks and in the present case the Applicant was just in possession of the cow skins. The intention of the legislature was quite clear when they included and focused on the words ‘flesh’ hence the Applicant is not in contravention of any section of the statue and has not carried out any illegal activity.
The Court in this case has relied upon its previous rulings in the case of Shaikh Najir Shaikh Umar Vs. State of Maharashtra & Israrul Haq Nisar Ahmed & Ors. Vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors. in both these cases the court held that raw skin of the cattle is not covered under the Statue.