The petitioners were arrested for allegedly cutting beef in their house for selling purpose. They were ordered to be detained after the Respondents had submitted that their release would disturb public peace and order. The instant petition had challenged the impugned detention order passed on 14th August 2020.
Habeas Corpus Nos. 412, 414, and 416 of 2021
Date of Judgement:
5th August 2021
Justice Saroj Yadav and Justice Ramesh Sinha
Petitioners: Parvez & Ors. Thru Brother Imran
Respondents: State of Uttar Pradesh Thru Secy. Home Lucknow & Ors.
The judgement dealt with the question of whether the activities complained of have resulted in an infringement of public order, or only involves a law and order issue.
- On receiving the information about five men engaging in the slaughtering and cutting of cow beef, the police raided the house and arrested two persons, namely, Parvez and Irfan on the spot. One more person, Rahamtullah was arrested the next day.
- After the arrest, the police registered a FIR under Sections 3/5/8 of the Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955 and Section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013. Another FIR was later lodged under the U. P. Gangsters and Anti-social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986.
- The petitioners were sent to jail, and their bail application was also not accepted by the Magistrate-I of Sitapur District. This rejection order was challenged before the District & Sessions Judge, Sitapur, and the hearing was fixed on 14th August 2020.
- While the proceedings were pending, the matter was placed before the District Magistrate, Sitapur. It was alleged on behalf of the State that the imposition of the National Security Act is necessary to prevent them from releasing on bail. It was submitted that if they are set free, then there are high chances that they may repeat the offence, which would disrupt public peace. The District Magistrate ordered for the detention of the petitioners on 14th August 2020 under Section 3(2) of the National Security Act, 1980.
- The State placed the matter before the U. P. Advisory Board (Detention), which affirmed the impugned order. The State Government, on 6th November 2020, further extended the detention period for six months.
- The petitioners approached the Allahabad High Court stating that the detention order must be quashed as it was passed without any appropriate grounds. They also stated that their bail application was accepted by the District & Sessions Judge, Sitapur.
- It was contended by the petitioners that out of the five accused, it were only the two co-accused who were actually involved in cow slaughtering, and the petitioners had no role in it. Further, their activities too were in no way prejudicial to public order.
- Whereas the Respondents submitted the acts committed by the accused were against the sentiments of the Hindus and the same had adversely affected the Hindu-Muslim harmony. It also instilled a sense of fear, outrage and terror amongst them, and consequently, the public order was disturbed and the crowd became belligerent. To maintain public peace and order, detention was inevitable.
- The petitioners further argued that their act cannot be the basis of disturbing public order and that the presumption that they would repeat the offence if released on bail, which would ultimately disturb public peace and order, is a bald observation.
- Moreover, it was also alleged that detaining them solely on the grounds stated above is violative of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
- Whether the present case is a matter involving public order, or only affecting law and order?
- Uttar Pradesh Cow Slaughter Act, 1955: The Act prohibits the slaughter of cow, bull or bullock except for experimentation purposes. Similarly, it also prohibits the sale of beef or beef-products. The Act also restricts such persons to be released on bail with some exceptions. Any person who contravenes the provisions of the Act shall be subject to rigorous punishment from three to ten years of imprisonment, and may be imposed with a fine of minimum Rs. Three lakhs and maximum, Rs. Five Lakhs.
- Section 3(2) of the National Security Act, 1980: The Section reads as follows: The Central Government or the State Government may, if satisfied with respect to any person that with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community it is necessary so to do, make an order directing that such person be detained.
- The Allahabad High Court held that the instant case of cutting cow beef in secrecy is a matter affecting law and order and not public order. It observed that the incident took place in secrecy in absence of any public. There was no resistance when the petitioners were being arrested. (Paragraph No. 29)
- The Court opined that the cutting of the cow beef was done in secrecy and there was no evidence of public turning hostile to this incident. Hence, the act cannot be said to be on the same footing as a situation where cow slaughtering is done in public view, therefore, the former can only be considered to involve a law and order issue unlike the latter that involves public order issue. (Paragraph No. 40)
- It also observed that there was no material reason in slapping the National Security Act against the petitioners since there is no evidence that the petitioners would repeat the same offence upon release, and that too, the same would disturb the public peace and order. Moreover, it is also clear that the petitioners have no other criminal records against them.
- With these observations, the Court allowed the Habeas Corpus petitions and set aside the detention order dated 14. 08. 2020 and all the impugned orders passed thereafter.
The concept of cow slaughtering has particularly attracted Uttar Pradesh more than any other state, so much that it has come up with an Act banning cow slaughter. Though the state clarifies that the impugned Act was an outcome of its duty under Article 48 of the Constitution, yet it is quite visible that the same is being misused to even punish innocent persons under the pretext. The instant case is also an example where persons are being detained unnecessarily. Thus, it is important for the State Government to make sure that its controversial acts do not interfere with the fundamental rights of the people.
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