Legislature Can Impose Total Prohibition on Cow Slaughter: Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court has refused to direct the Centre to impose a “total prohibition” on slaughter of cows and its progeny, saying the competent legislature has to be approached for any steps in this regard.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, while dealing with a public interest litigation by Brishbhan Verma, noted that there is already a ban in respect of cow slaughter in the national capital pursuant to a law enacted by the city government.

It said for other states, the petitioner was free to take appropriate steps in light of a Supreme Court decision, which held that legislature cannot be compelled to come out with a particular legislation.

“The Supreme Court observed that only a competent legislature can decide such questions arising in relation to prohibition of slaughter of cow and its progeny, and the Supreme Court, in exercise of its writ jurisdiction, cannot compel the legislature to promulgate a particular legislation. The court ultimately left it to the appellants in the case to approach the legislature,” said a bench, also comprising Justice Sanjeev Narula, in an order passed last week.

“There is already an Act in force in the State of Delhi as discussed above which provides for ban on slaughter of cattle, and in respect of other states the Petitioner shall certainly be free to take appropriate steps in light of the order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” the court said.

The petitioner prayed for a direction to the Centre for a “total prohibition” on the “slaughter of cow and its progeny which includes old-useless bulls, bullocks and old buffaloes and male counterpart, without any further delay”.

In light of the top court’s order, the high court said the petitioner “cannot press for the reliefs sought in this petition”.

The Centre, represented by its counsel Monika Arora, submitted that all the states and Union territories have enacted legislation to restrict/ban slaughter of cows and its progeny, except five states and one Union Territory, i.e., Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Lakshadweep.

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It further said the legislative competence with respect to the issue in the present case lies with the state governments and in respect of Delhi, the prohibition on slaughter of cows is already in force through the Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act, 1994.

Delhi government counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi said the provisions of the Delhi Act makes it very clear that there is a complete ban in respect of cow slaughter in the national capital.

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