The Supreme Court recently upheld the Karnataka High Court judgment that quashed criminal proceedings against three persons accused of storing large quanitity of cow meat.

The court said that the act of collection of sample of meat by a Assistant Director of the Veterinary Department, who had no authority in law to collect the sample, rendered the process of sample collection as illegal.

The appellant, who claimed to be an Animal Welfare Officer, had complained to an Assistant Director of the Veterinary Department (Assistant Director) about the illegal storage of a large quantity of cow meat in a godown that belonged to the respondents.

An FIR was registered for offences punishable under Sections 420 and 429 of the IPC and Sections 4 and 5 Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964 (the 1964 Act). However, the High Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 482 of the CrPC quashed the FIR.

The Court remarked that the Assistant Director had entered the factory premises of the respondents, opened two packets kept in ice, and collected a sample of meat from the packets. The sample was put in the thermocol box and packed by putting ice around it. The seized sample was sent for analysis.

The Court held that the power of an Assistant Director was confined to “enter and inspect,” but had no power to seize any sample of meat under the 1964 Act.

Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan observed, “The crux of the matter is that the sample of the meat was admittedly collected by the Assistant Director, who had no authority in law to collect the sample. He did not collect the sample after notice to the first to third respondents. Thus, the act of collection of sample by the Assistant Director was completely illegal.

Sr. Advocate Sudhanshu Choudhary represented the appellant, while Advocate Sharanagouda Patil appeared for the respondents.

The appellant had argued that there was a huge quantity of cow meat that was found in the custody of the respondents and even before the investigation could proceed, the High Court interjected. The appellant submitted that there was “overwhelming prima facie evidence on record to show that the meat found in the custody of the first to third respondents was a meat of cow” and, therefore, the offences under Sections 4 and 5 of the 1964 Act were attracted.

The appellant had further submitted that the sample collected from the cold storage of the respondents was sent for a DNA test which revealed that the meat was of cow. It was also claimed that the “High Court has virtually conducted a mini trial.

The Court held, “Thus, the sample was collected not by a police officer but by the fifth respondent, who was the Assistant Director of the Veterinary Department. Assuming that he was an authorized person, his powers were very limited under Section 10 of the 1964 Act.

Stating that the entire case of the prosecution was based on the unauthorised and illegal collection of the sample of the meat, the Supreme Court held that the High Court was right to interfere by quashing the FIR.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.

Cause Title: Joshine Antony v. Smt. Asifa Sultana & Ors. (Neutral Cittaion: 2024 INSC 144)


Appellant: Sr. Advocate Sudhanshu Choudhary; AOR P. S. Sudheer; Advocates Ayush Anand, Santosh Kumar, Raju Gupta, Rishi Maheshwari, Anne Mathew, Bharat Sood, and Miranda Solaman

Respondents: Advocates Sharanagouda Patil, Supreeta Patil and Jyotish Pandey

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