Express News Service

LUCKNOW: In a major decision, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court quashed the detention of three persons, all residents of Sitapur, under the National Security Act (NSA) in connection with a cow slaughter case.

Passing the order on August 5, the bench said that the accused were detained under NSA for a solitary case under UP Cow Slaughter Act and that there was no evidence on record to show that they were habitual offenders and would repeat the crime on being released.

A bench, comprising Justice Ramesh Sinha and Justice Saroj Yadav, passed the order allowing three habeas corpus writ petitions moved by brothers Pervez, Irfan and Rahmatullah independently.

The Sitapur police had booked all three under UP Cow Slaughter Act on July 12, 2020. On a tip off by an informer that beef was brought to Rahmatullah house after slaughtering the cow elsewhere. The police was also told that Rahmatullah’s brother as well as two butchers had made small pieces of beef for selling it.

Consequently, the police party raided the house of Rahmatullah and found five persons cutting the lump of the beef in small pieces with a sharp-edged weapon (banka). As soon as the police party entered the house, all five tried to flee the spot. However, Irfan and Pervez were arrested on spot. The two revealed the name of Rahmatullah and two other co-accused persons.

Initially, all three were booked under Gangster Act, and later, the police and administration moved to book them under NSA on August 14, 2020.

Challenging the detention order of August 14, 2020, the petitioners’ counsel Narendra Gupta pleaded that NSA was slapped on the basis of a solitary incident where there was no material to infer that repetition was likely, the order of detention was not justified.

However, the state counsel, opposing the petition, pleaded that NSA could be imposed even on the basis of a single case. He also stressed that the detention order was upheld by the Advisory Board and as such the same was sustainable.

Considering that the accused were nabbed inside the house, while cutting the beef into pieces, the bench observed: “An act of slaughtering a cow in the secrecy of one’s own house in the wee hours probably because of poverty or lack of employment or hunger, would perhaps only involve a law and order issue.”

The bench added: “The act of the petitioners can at best be described as a matter affecting law and order and not public order. Moreover, there was no material for reaching the conclusion for detaining authorities that the petitioners would repeat the activity in future.”