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The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court recently observed that mere possession of dead animal skin would not amount to an offence under Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976. The law prohibits slaughtering, importing, exporting, and possessing beef.

The division bench of Justice V. M. Deshpande & Anil S. Kilor noted last week that Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976 doesn’t prohibit the possession of dead animal skin. The court then observed that if any circular/notification/order is issued by the state government, prohibiting possession of skin, such circular will not prevail over the provisions of the statute.

The order was given on December 14 while hearing the plea filed by the vehicle driver, Shafiqullaha Kha seeking quashing of FIR filed against him under Section 5A ( prohibition on transportation of cow, bull or bullock from any place within state for purpose of slaughter), Section 5B ( prohibition on export of cow, bull or bullock within state or any place outside for slaughtering) and Section 5C (prohibition on possession of flesh of cow, bull or bullock slaughtered) among others.

The prosecution alleged that the man was found with 187 skins of cow species, also confirmed by the Animal Husbandry department. A complaint was filed by a man claiming him to be the president of Bajrang Dal local unit in Shivaji Nagar police station.

Advocate appearing for the accused, A V Bhide had challenged the FIR stating that the man was carrying all the necessary documents including Udyog Aadhar Memorandum, a license under the Maharashtra Shops and Establishment Act, and a bill prepared for selling of raw hide. So there was no contravention of any provision of the Act.

“There is no doubt that the skin is not covered under the provisions of the Act of Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976. Thus, there is no prohibition for the possession of skin of dead animals and in absence of such prohibition, we have of a convinced view that no offence under Section 5-(A), 5-(B), 5-(C) attracts in the present matter and consequently Section 9 and 9-(A) ( both providing punishments under the law) also would not attract,” observed the bench.

Bombay High Court also quashed the FIR while stating, “Moreover, in absence of any statutory provision, which prohibits possession of skin of a dead animal, even if, any circular or notification or order has been issued by the State Government, prohibiting possession of skin, such circular, notification or order which has no statutory force will not prevail over the provisions of the statute and to that extent, it would be in contravention with the statute. Thus, the contravention of any such notification or circular or order as regards possession of skin will not attract Section 188 (contempt of lawful authority of public servant) of the Indian Penal Code.”


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