Intention Is An Essential Ingredient To Constitute Offence Under Bovine Animal Slaughter Prohibition Law: Rajasthan High Court
The Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur Bench, held that intention is an essential ingredient to constitute an offence under Section 3 of the Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 1995 (Act).
Sujlon Infrastructure, the company owned by the Petitioner, was accused of discarding polythene at the grazing grounds used by the Complainant's cattle. The Court emphasized that no evidence was produced to show that the Petitioner's employees intentionally placed polythene where the cows graze.
“Section 2(m) of the Act defines slaughter as intentional killing by any method and for any purpose, whatever it may be, thus, in order to constitute an offence under Section 3 of the Act, intention is an essential ingredient”, the Bench of Justice Farjand Ali observed.
Advocate Akhilesh Rajpurohit appeared for the Petitioners and Deputy General Advocate Mukhtiyar Khan appeared for the Respondent (State).
The Petitioner’s company, Sujlon Infrastructure, was accused of dumping polythene at the place where the complainant party took their cattle for grazing. The company denied the allegations and contended that the waste was disposed of per the norms applicable. The police filed a negative final report, but the complainant filed a protest petition. The Trial Court took cognizance of the offenses under Sections 3 and 8 of the Act against the Petitioner. Aggrieved, the Petitioner approached the High Court challenging the order.
The Court noted that Section 3 of the Act prohibits the slaughter of any bovine animal. Section 2(m) of the Act defines slaughter as the intentional killing of a bovine animal by any method and for any purpose. Therefore, to constitute an offence under Section 3 of the Act, intention is an essential ingredient.
The Bench noted, “Neither does it seem logical to infer that the company placed polythene intentionally where the cows come to graze nor do the facts and circumstances of the case reflect any intentional placing/disposing of polythene or waste material anywhere in order to slaughter the cows or cause the cows to be slaughtered or offer them or cause them to be offered for slaughter, therefore, no offence under Section 3 of the Act is made out”.
Furthermore, the Bench observed that the principle of vicarious liability does not apply in this case. Vicarious liability is a legal doctrine that holds an employer liable for the torts of its employees committed within the scope of their employment. However, there is no evidence that the Petitioner's employees intentionally placed polythene where the cows graze. Additionally, the Petitioner was not in the same city as the plant/factory/site, and it is not comprehensible how he could be held responsible for an animal dying due to choking owing to swallowing polythene.
"Moreover, it is not comprehensible how an owner or head of the company who might not even be in the same city as the plant/factory/site can be held responsible for an animal dying due to choking owing to swallowing of a polythene which can fly from anywhere and get stuck/ accumulated at another place", the Bench added.
Additionally, the Court noted that when deciding whether to quash criminal proceedings under Section 482 of the CrPC, the High Court is not expected to conduct an in-depth investigation to determine the truthfulness of the allegations made in the FIR. Instead, the High Court's role is to assess whether the allegations, prima facie, are sufficient to establish a case against the accused. The negative final report filed by the investigating agency indicates that there is no evidence to support the allegations against the petitioner.
Accordingly, the Court disposed of the Petition.
Cause Title: Ketan Soni v State Of Rajasthan (2023:RJ-JD:38449)