मंगलवार, 30 अगस्त 2016

गाय और इंसान - गौशास्त्र - न्याय खंड ::लेखक : डॉ. श्रीकृष्ण मित्तल B.Com(Hons) LLM, Ph.D

न्याय खंड
ऐसे माननीय सर्वोच्च न्यायालय के बहुत से निर्णय और निर्देश हैं जो विभिन्न विषयों पर समय समय पर गौरक्षा और गौसेवकों के सहायक बने है  कुछ इस प्रकार है
Land mark Judgement on GOMALA given byMarkandey  Kataju & Justice Gyan  Sudha Mishra. This direction, if used, can provide grazing land to speech less  animals
CIVIL APPEAL NO.1132 /2011 @ SLP(C) No.3109/2011
   (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) CC No. 19869 of 2010)
        Jagpal Singh & Ors.                                 ..   Appellant (s)
        -versus-State of Punjab & Ors.           Respondent (s)          
            Markandey Katju, J.      
1.      Leave granted.
2.      Heard learned counsel for the appellants.
3.      Since time immemorial there have been common lands inhering in the village communities in India, variously called gram sabha land, gram panchayat land, (in many North Indian States), shamlat deh (in Punjab etc.), mandaveli and poramboke land (in South India), Kalam, Maidan, etc., depending on the nature of user. These public utility lands in the villages were for centuries used for the common benefit of the villagers of the village such as ponds for various purposes e.g. for their cattle to drink and bathe, for storing their harvested grain, as grazing ground for the cattle, threshing floor, maidan for playing by children, carnivals, circuses, ramlila, cart stands, water bodies, passages, cremation ground or graveyards, etc. These lands stood vested through local laws in the State, which handed over their management to Gram Sabhas/Gram Panchayats.              They were generally reated as inalienable in order that their status as community land bepreserved.   There were no doubt some exceptions to this rule which permitted the Gram Sabha/Gram Panchayat to lease out some of this land to landless labourers and members of the scheduled castes/tribes, but this was only to be done in exceptional cases.
4.The protection of commons rights of the villagers were so zealously protected that some legislation expressly mentioned that even the vesting of the property with the State did not mean that the common rights of villagers were lost by such vesting. Thus, in Chigurupati Venkata Subbayya vs. Paladuge Anjayya, 1972(1) SCC 521 (529) this Court observed : "It is true that the suit lands in view of Section 3 of the Estates Abolition Act did vest in the Government. That by itself does not mean that the rights of the community over it were taken away. Our attention has not been invited to any provision of law under which the rights of the community over those lands can be said to have been taken away. The rights of the community over the suit lands were not created by the landholder. Hence those rights cannot be said to have been abrogated by Section 3) of the Estates Abolition Act."
5.What we have witnessed since Independence, however, is that in large parts of the country this common village land has been grabbed by unscrupulous persons using muscle power, money power or political clout, and in many States now there is not an inch of such land left for the common use of the people of the village, though it may exist on paper. People with power and pelf operating in villages all over India systematically encroached upon communal lands and put them to uses totally inconsistent with its original character, for personal aggrandizement at the cost of the village community. This was done with active connivance of the State authorities and local powerful vested interests and goondas.This appeal is a glaring example of this lamentable state of affairs.
6.This appeal has been filed against the impugned judgment of a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court dated 21.5.2010. By that judgment the Division Bench upheld the judgment of the learned Single Judge of the High Court dated 10.2.2010.
7. It is undisputed that the appellants herein are neither the owner nor the tenants of the land in question which is recorded as a pond situated in village Rohar Jagir, Tehsil and District Patiala. They are in fact trespassers and unauthorized occupants of the land relating Khewat Khatuni No. 115/310, Khasra No. 369 (84-4) in the said village. They appear to have filled in the village pond and made constructions thereon.
8.    The Gram Panchayat, Rohar Jagir filed an application under Section 7 of the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961 to evict the appellants herein who had unauthorizedly occupied the aforesaid land. In its petition the Gram Panchayat, Rohar Jagir alleged that the land in question belongs to the Gram Panchayat, Rohar as is clear from the revenue records. However, the respondents (appellants herein) forcibly occupied the said land and started making constructions thereon illegally.      An application was consequently moved before the Deputy Commissioner informing him about the illegal acts of the respondents (appellants herein) and stating that theaforesaid land is recorded in the revenue records as Gair Mumkin Toba i.e. a village pond. The villagers have been using the same, since drain water of the village falls into the pond, and it is used by the cattle of the village for drinking and bathing. Since the respondents (appellants herein) illegally occupied the said land an FIR was filed against them but to no avail. It was alleged that the respondents (appellants herein) have illegally raised constructions on the said land, and the lower officials of the department and even the Gram Panchayat colluded with them.
9.Instead of ordering the eviction of these unauthorized occupants, the Collector, Patiala surprisingly held that it would not be in the public interest to dispossess them, and instead directed the Gram Panchayat, Rohar to recover the cost of the land as per the Collector's rates from the respondents (appellants herein). Thus, the Collector colluded in regularizing this illegality on the ground that the respondents (appellants herein) have spenthuge money on constructing houses on the said land.
10.   Some persons then appealed to the learned Commissioner against thesaid order of the Collector dated 13.9.2005 and this appeal was allowed on12.12.2007. The Learned Commissioner held that it was clear that the Gram Panchayat was colluding with these respondents (appellants herein), and ithad not even opposed the order passed by the Collector in which directions were issued to the Gram Panchayat to transfer the property to these persons, nor filed an appeal against the Collector's order.
11.   The learned Commissioner held that the village pond has been used for the common purpose of the villagers and cannot be allowed to be encroached upon by any private respondents, whether Jagirdars or anybody else. Photographs submitted before the learned Commissioner showed that recent attempts had been made to encroach into the village pond by filling it up with earth and making new constructions thereon. The matter had gone to the officials for removal of these illegal constructions, but no action was taken for reasons best known to the authorities at that time. The learned Commissioner was of the view that regularizing such kind of illegal encroachment is not in the interest of the Gram Panchayat. The learned Commissioner held that Khasra No. 369 (84-4) is a part of the village pond, and the respondents (appellants herein) illegally constructed their houses at the site without any jurisdiction and without even any resolution of the GramPanchayat.
12.   Against the order of the learned Commissioner a Writ Petition was filed before the learned Single Judge of the High Court which was dismissed by the judgment dated 10.2.2010, and the judgment of learned Single Judge has been affirmed in appeal by the Division Bench of the High Court. Hence this appeal.
13.We find no merit in this appeal. The appellants herein were trespassers who illegally encroached on to the Gram Panchayat land by using muscle power/money power and in collusion with the officials and even with the Gram Panchayat. We are of the opinion that such kind of blatant illegalities must not be condoned. Even if the appellants have built houses on the land in question they must be ordered to remove their constructions, and possession of the land in question must be handed back to the Gram Panchayat. Regularizing such illegalities must not be permitted because it is Gram Sabha land which must be kept for the common use of villagers of the village. The letter dated 26.9.2007 of the Government of Punjab permitting regularization of possession of these unauthorized occupants is not valid. We are of the opinion that such letters are wholly illegal and without jurisdiction. In our opinion such illegalities cannot be regularized.   We cannot allow the common interest of the villagers to suffer merely because the unauthorized occupation has subsisted for many years.                                                
14.   In M.I. Builders (P) Ltd. vs. Radhey Shyam Sahu, 1999(6) SCC 464 the Supreme Court ordered restoration of a park after demolition of a shopping complex constructed at the cost of over Rs.100 crores. In Friends Colony Development Committee vs. State of Orissa, 2004 (8) SCC 733 this Court held that even where the law permits compounding of unsanctioned constructions, such compounding should only be by way of an exception. In our opinion this decision will apply with even greater force in cases of encroachment of village common land. Ordinarily, compounding in such cases should only be allowed where the land has been leased to landless labourers or members of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, or the land is actually being used for a public purpose of the village e.g. running a school for the villagers, or a dispensary for them.
15.   In many states Government orders have been issued by the State Government permitting allotment of Gram Sabha land to private persons and commercial enterprises on payment of some money. In our opinion all such Government orders are illegal, and should be ignored.
16.The present is a case of land recorded as a village pond. This Court inHinch Lal Tiwari vs. Kamala Devi,
AIR 2001 SC 3215 (followed by the Madras High Court in L. Krishnan vs. State of Tamil Nadu, 2005(4)CTC 1 Madras) held that land recorded as a pond must not be allowed to be allotted to anybody for construction of a house or any allied purpose. The Court ordered the respondents to vacate the land they had illegally occupied, after taking away the material of the house. We pass a similar order in this case.
17. In this connection we wish to say that our ancestors were not fools. They knew that in certain years there may be droughts or water shortages for some other reason, and water was also required for cattle to drink and bathe in etc. Hence they built a pond attached to every village, a tank attached to every temple, etc.These were their traditional rain water harvesting methods, which served them for thousands of years.
18.Over the last few decades, however, most of these ponds in our country have been filled with earth and built upon by greedy people, thus destroying their original character.This has contributed to the water shortages in the country.
19.Also, many ponds are auctioned off at throw away prices to businessmen for fisheries in collusion with authorities/Gram Panchayatofficials, and even this money collected from these so called auctions are not used for the common benefit of the villagers but misappropriated by certainindividuals. The time has come when these malpractices must stop.
20.In Uttar Pradesh the U.P. Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1954 was widely misused to usurp Gram Sabha lands either with connivance of the Consolidation Authorities, or by forging orders purported to have been passed by Consolidation Officers in the long past so that they may not be compared with the original revenue record showing the land as Gram Sabha land, as these revenue records had been weeded out. Similar may have been the practice in other States. The time has now come to review all these orders by which the common village land has been grabbed by such fraudulent practices.
21. For the reasons given above there is no merit in this appeal and it is dismissed.
22.   Before parting with this case we give directions to all the State Governments in the country that they should prepare schemes for eviction of illegal/unauthorized occupants ofGramSabha/Gram Panchayat/ Poramboke /Shamlat land and these must be restored to the GramSabha/Gram Panchayat for the common use of villagers of the village. For this purpose the Chief Secretaries of all State Governments/ Union Territories in India are directed to do the needful, taking the help of other senior officers of the Governments. The said scheme should provide for the speedy eviction of such illegal occupant, after giving him a show cause notice and a brief hearing. Long duration of such illegal occupation or huge expenditure in making constructions thereon or political connections must not be treated as a justification for condoning this illegal act or for regularizing the illegal possession. Regularization should only be permitted in exceptional cases e.g. where lease has been granted under some Government notification to landless labourers or members of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, or where there is already a school, dispensary or other public utility on the land.
23.   Let a copy of this order be sent to all Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories in India who will ensure strict and prompt compliance of this order and submit compliance reports to this Court from time to time.  
 24.   Although we have dismissed this appeal, it shall be listed before this Court from time to time (on dates fixed by us), so that we can monitor implementation of our directions herein.List again before us on 3.5.2011 on which date all Chief Secretaries in India will submit their reports.
 J.MarkandeyKatju  J. GyanSudha Mishra
Question of interim Custody has been decided by hon’ble Supreme Court of India   in the favor of Pinjrapol- goshala. The following orders are binding on Lowercourts & shall be mentioned at the time of Claiming Interim Custody
(Arising out ofSLP(CRL)Nos.2790,2793,2795,2797,2800/1999
State of U.P……Appellant V/S  Mustakeem & Ors….Respondents
Leave Granted       The State of Utter Pradesh is in appeal against the direction of the court directing release of the animals in favor of the owner. It is alleged that while those animals were transported for the purpose of being slaughtered and FIR was registered for alleged violation of the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960 and the specific allegation in the FIR was that the animals were transported for being slaughtered and the animals were tied very tied very tightly to each other.
The Criminal case is still pending. On an appeal for getting the custody of the animals was filed.The impugned order has been passed. We are shocked as to how such an order could be passed by the learned Judge of the High Court in view of the very allegation and in view of the charges, which the accused may face in the criminal trial.
We therefore set aside the impugned order and direct that these animals be kept in the Gaushala and the State Government undertake the entire responsibility of preservation of those animals so long as the matter is under trial. The appeal stands disposed of accordingly                                  Sd/- G.B. PATTANAIK
(Arising out of special Leave Petition (Crl.) No.755 of 1989)
     Go Bachao Samithi , Malkheda………………….Appellant V/ s.
    State of Madhya Pradesh and Anr………………..Respondents
Special leave granted.
Having considered the facts and the circumstances of the case and relevant provisions, the Judgement and order Dt.2nd November 1988, of the learned Additional Session Judge Shajapur (M.P.) are set aside and the order of the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Sunner Dist. Shajapur (M.P.) is restored. It is further directed that the trial pending before the Judicial Magistrate First Class Sunner, dist Shajapur (M.P.) be disposed of with in a period of three months from this date pereoptorily.
The appeal is disposed of with these directions.
Sd/- J. Sabyasachi Mukharji ………..J. B.C. Ray…………………..
New Delhi,  September 6, 1989
Special Leave Petition (Crl.)No.1900-02of 1990
Sri Devi Prasad Mishra…Appellant
Versus  State of U.P. & Anr…..Respondents
Leave Granted.
After hearing both counsel. We are of the opinion that the interests of Justice require that pending disposal of the Criminal matter pending before the lower Criminal Court II Allahabad, the custody of the cattle in question should remain with the organization known as GODHAM which is represented by the appellant in this case
The lower Court has already ordered that identification marks should be put on the cattle. This may be done and the Godham should look after and protect the cattle pending disposal of the matter in the Criminal Court. If the identification has not already been done respondent No.2 may be allowed to be present at the time when the identification marks are put on the cattle
Having regard to the interim direction given by us, we direct the criminal case to be disposed of as expeditiously as possible. With these observations the appeals are disposed of. There is no order as to costs.
(S.Ranganathan, S.C. Agarweal & N.D. Ojha) New DelhiDt.30-1-91
References Cases
1.   AndhraPradesh Highcourt at Hyderabad Crl.Rev P No. 604 of 1991 13.3.1992  on maintenance of custody
2.   Gujarat High Court on 16.8.1984 Justice MB Shah on maintenance custody
3.   MadhyaPradesh High Court at Indore Misc. Cr. Case No.1538 of 1989 Dt. 30.11.1989 on maintenance of Interim custody
4.   Maharashtra Highcourt at Bombay WP 373 of 1987 on Interim Custody & maintenance Charges
5.   Sec/154(1) Cr.PC on FIR recording mandatory for Police officer(1992) Sup(1) Supremecourt Cases 335 CA No.5412 of 1990 on 21.11.1990
6.   Sec. 301 Cr.PC Local Standi of Volunteers upheld (Cr. Misc. Case 25 of 1996 Dt. 19.1.1996 of Allahabad Highcourt at Lacknow
7.   Sec.301A IPC WP No.116 of 2001 of Allahabad Highcourt Civil Side Orig.Jur
8.   Hon’ble Supreme Court Direction is WP 881 of 2014 & WP210 of 2015 on intl. smuggling to Bangladesh & Nepal
9.   Hon’ble Supreme Court Directions on slaughter houses in WP 301 0f 2003 & WP 44 of 2001 LN Modi V/S.GOI ,Peta Vs GOI
Directions of Honorable High Court of Kolkata to West Bengal Govt time and again to act and stop Scarifice of Healthy Cow on Baqar Idd Day
BENCH: Majumdar S.B. (J) Kuldip Singh (J) Hansaria B.L.(J)
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by MAJMUDAR,  J.- All these appeals by special leave arise            out of the judgment of the Division Bench of Calcutta High Court in Civil Rule No. 709 (W) of 1971 decided on 20-8-1982.The appellants in these appeals are the State of West Bengal and the  other contesting respondents who were before  the   High Court.     
27 respondents  herein had filed the  writ  petition before the Calcutta High Court, challenging the validity  of exemption  of slaughter of scheduled animal,  namely,  cows, from  the  operation  of the West  Bengal  Animal  Slaughter Control Act, 1950 (hereinafter referred to as the 'Act')  on BakrI'd day.  The writ petitioners had obtained leave  under Order  1, Rule 8 of the Code of Civil Procedure    and  joined Respondents 7 to21representing the Muslim community.
The writ petitioner contended before the High Court  tha the State of West Bengal Respondent 1 before the High Court had wrongly invoked Section 12 of the Act when it exempted      from the  operation of the Act, the slaughter of healthy cows  on the  occasion of BakrI'd on the ground that  such  exemption was required to be given for the religious purpose of Muslim community.   The Division Bench of the Calcutta High  Court after hearing the contesting parties took the view that such slaughter of cows by members of Muslim community on  BakrI'd day was not a requirement of Muslim religion and, therefore, such  exemption was outside the scope of Section 12  of         the Act.  Consequently, the impugned order  was dehors  the statute.     In that view  the  Division Bench  allowed       the petition and issued a  mandamus  to       the appellants,  State  of West Bengal  Respondent   1  and its delegate  officers Respondents 2 to 16 in the writ  petitioncalling upon them to forbear from giving any exemption under Section 12 of the Act in respect of slaughter of cows on the occasion of BakrI'd day thereinafter.  The writ petitioner's oral  application  for    leave  under  Article  133  of    the Constitution was refused as according to the Division  Bench it  had         followed the Constitution Bench  decision  of             this Court in Mohd.      Hanif Quareshi v. State of Bihar1, in coming to the said conclusion.
2.As noted earlier the State of West Bengal as well as other contesting  respondents of Muslim community  have  preferred these  appeals            by way of special leave to appeal  from            the aforesaid  judgment  of the Division Bench of  the  Calcutta High Court.
3.As all these appeals involve common questions of facts and law, learned counsel for contesting parties addressed common arguments  in  all  these  appeals.Consequently,we are disposing of these appeals by this common judgment.
4.Learned  counsel  for  the  appellants  in  these  appeals vehemently  contended  that the view of the  High  Court  is erroneous and does not correctly interpret Section 12 of the Act.  It must be held that such exemption can be granted for fulfilling any religious purpose and such purpose may not be an obligatory purpose.           That even if it is open to a  Muslim to  offer sacrifice of a goat or a camel or a cow  and   when such  a sacrifice should be of a healthy animal then it     was perfectly  open    to the State to grant    exemption  from           the operation of the Act so far as slaughtering of a healthy cow on  BakrI'd day was concerned.   It was also  contended that the  High Court had misread the judgment in  Quareshi  case1 as this case had interpreted Article 25 of the Constitution of  India  and in that light it was held that  slaughter  of cows  could  not  be considered to be a      part  of  essential religious  requirement.        So far as Section 12 of the Act  is concerned it does not talk of an essential religious purpose but talks of any religious purpose which may include even an
optional  purpose.   Mr Tarkunde,  learned  Senior  Counsel, appearing  for      one of the appellants  vehemently  contended that  for operation of Section 12 it is not  necessary that the religious purpose must be a mandatory purpose but  would cover even an optional purpose as contemplated by the Muslim religion,  like slaughter of healthy cow on BakrI'd.   Hence such  a purpose would be covered by the sweep of Section  12 of the Act.
5.On  the other hand learned counsel for the originalwrit petitioners,  respondents in these appeals,  contended   that the  Act is meant for controlling the slaughter of  animals including the cows and buffaloes and this is with the object of increasing the supply of milk and avoiding the wastage of animal power  necessary  for  improvement  of   agriculture. Under Section 4 of the Act only animals fit for slaughtering can be slaughtered.  For that a certificate is
required to be issued by the authorities concerned.  But  so far  as healthy animals like cows are concerned there  is  a complete ban on slaughtering them.  Section 12 seeks to lift the  ban  in  connection  with       such  animals  only  on the fulfilment of the condition precedent, namely, such  lifting of  the ban being necessary for any religious, medicinal  or research  purpose.  As this is an exception to the  general protection  against  slaughtering  of  health animal as envisaged by the Act, such exemption or exception should  be strictly construed and cannot be lightly granted or  lightly resorted to for any optional religious purpose which may not be   absolutely     necessary.   In  this connection  it       was submitted by learned counsel for the respondents that as per the  appellants, in order to earn religious merit  a  Muslim can offer sacrifice of a goat or alternatively of a  healthy cow if 7 Muslims together decided to do so and spend for  it or  even  a  camel can be sacrificed  by  them       on  BakrI'd.
Therefore, it is not essential for Muslims to earn religious merit  by  insisting  on sacrificing only  healthy  cows  on BakrI'd.    Consequently,  the      State  will  not  have     any Jurisdiction  or power to invoke Section 12  for  fulfilling such  optional religious practice of Muslim  community.    It was  further contended that the Constitution Bench  judgment in Quareshi case1 has clearly ruled that slaughter of cow on BakrI'd  day cannot be considered to be a part of  essential
religious practice and that is the reason why protection  of Article          25  is not available for enabling  slaughtering  of cows on BakrI'd day.  If that is so, on that very basis      the State's action under Section 12 of the Act has to be  judged otherwise  what   is  held  to  be  non-essential   religious requirement  by the Constitution Bench of this Court,  would be  treated  as      essential  religious  requirement  for   the purpose of Section 12 of the Act.  That would run counter to the very ratio of the decision of the Constitution Bench  of this Court.  Therefore, according to the learned counsel for the  respondent writ petitioners, the Division Bench ofthe High Court was perfectly justified in following the decision of the Constitution Bench of this Court in Quareshi case1.
6.We  have  given  our anxious consideration  to  the  rival contentions.   In  our view the decision  rendered  by         the Division  Bench         of  Calcutta High  Court  under  appeal  is unexceptionable and calls for no interference.We must keep in  view the scheme of the Act for deciding the question  in controversy.
7.As the preamble of the Act shows it was enacted to control the  slaughter of certain animals as it was expedient to  doso  with a view to increase the supply of milk and to  avoid the  wastage  of animal power necessary for  improvement  of agriculture.   Section 2 lays down that the Act            applies  to animals specified in the schedule.  The schedule to the Act covers     bullsbullocks ,cows,  calves,  male and female buffaloes, buffalo calves and castrated buffaloes.   Section
4  of  the  Act deals with prohibition        of  slaughtering  of animals      without certificate  from  authorities  concerned. Section   4(1) provides that notwithstanding anything in            any other law for the time being in force or in any usage to the contrary, no person shall slaughter any animal unless he has obtained  in respect thereof a certificate under  subsection (2) or sub-section (3) that the animal is fit for slaughter.
As per sub- section         (2) a certificate is required to be issued  by    the authorities  concerned that the animal is over 14  years  of age and is unfit for work or breeding or that the animal has become permanently incapacitated from work or breeding            due to  age, injury, deformity or any incurable  disease.         Sub- section (3) deals with a case where there is a difference of opinion          between  the  authorities  concerned from   which initially a certificate is to be obtained.  As per Section 5 even if there is a certificate enabling a person to get          the animal   concerned slaughtered he cannot slaughter it in any place  other than the place prescribed in that behalf. As per  Section 7 whoever contravenes the provision of the Act shall  be punishable with imprisonment for a term which         may extend to six months or with fine which may extendto one thousand rupees or with both.  Section 8 makes the  offences cognizable under the Act. Section 9 prescribes punishment for abetment of offences or even attempts to commit any such offence under the Act.
8.The  aforesaid  relevant provisions clearly  indicate the legislative intention that healthy cows which are not fit to be  slaughtered cannot be slaughtered at  all.  That  is the thrust of  Section 4 of the Act.  In other words  there  is total   ban  against slaughtering of healthy cows  and  other Animals mentioned  in the schedule under Section 2  of the Act.   This  is the  very essence of  the  Actand  it  is necessary  to  subserve the  purpose of  the  Act  i.e.  to increase the supply of milk and avoid the wastage of  animal power necessary for improvement of agriculture.         Keeping  in view  these  essential features  of the  Act, we  have  to construe  Section  12  which  deals  with  power  to   grant exemption  from the Act.  As we have noted earlier the        said section      enables the State Government by general or  special order and subject to such conditions as it may think fit  to impose,         to exempt from the operation of this Act  slaughter of any animal   for any religious,  medicinal or  research purpose.   Now it becomes clear that when there is  a  total ban  under  the Act so far as slaughtering of  healthy         cows which  are not fit to be slaughtered as per Section 4(1)  is concerned,  if that ban is to be lifted even for a  day,  it has  to be shown that such lifting of ban is  necessary for subserving  any religious,medicinalorresearchpurpose
The  Constitution  Bench  decision of this  Court  in  Mohd. Hanif  Quareshi     case1 at  (SCR) page  650  of the  report speaking  through Das, C.J. referred to the observations  in Hamilton's  translation        of Hedaya, Book XLIII at  page       592 that  it is the duty of every free Mussalman arrived at  the age of maturity, to offer a sacrifice on the I'd Kurban,  or festival of the sacrifice, provided he be then possessed  of Nisab and be not a traveller.  The sacrifice established for one  person is a goat and that for seven a cow or  a  camel.
It is, therefore, optional for a Muslim to sacrifice a          goatfor  one person or a cow or a camel for seven  persons.It does  not  appear  to  be  obligatory  that  a personmustsacrifice  a  cow.  Once the religious    purpose of Muslims consists of making sacrifice of any animal which should be a healthy animal, on BakrI'd, then slaughtering of cow is not the  only  way      of  carrying out  that sacrifice.   It is,therefore, obviously not an essential religious purpose   but an  optional  one.  In this connection Mr Tarkunde  for        the appellants submitted that even optional purpose would be covered  by the term "any religious purpose" as employed  by Section 12 and should not be an essential religious purpose. We  cannot  accept this view for  the   simple  reason that Section      12  seeks  to   lift  the  ban in  connection          with slaughter  of  such  animals  on  certain  conditions.         For lifting the ban it should be shown that it is essential  or necessary for a Muslim to sacrifice a healthy cow on BakrI'd day and if such is the requirement of religious purpose then it  may enable the State in its wisdom to lift the  ban  at least on BakrI'd day.  But that is not the position.  It  is well  settled that an exceptional provision which  seeks  to avoid  the  operation of main thrust of the Act   has  to  be strictly construed.  In this connection it is profitable  to refer  to the decisions of this Court in the cases Union  of India v. Wood Paper Ltd.2 and Novopan India Ltd. v. C.C.E. & Customs3.   If any optional religious purpose  enabling the Muslim        to sacrifice a healthy cow on BakrI'd is  made  the subject-matter        of an exemption under Section 12 of the            Act then such exemption would get granted for a purpose which is not an essential one and to that extent the exemption  would be treated to have been lightly or cursorily granted.   Such is  not      the  scope  and ambit       of  Section  12.   We  must, therefore,  hold  that        before the State  can  exercise            the exemption   power  under  Section  12  in  connection          with slaughter of any healthy animal covered by the Act, it must be shown that such exemption is necessary to be granted  for subserving  an       essential religious, medicinal    or  research purpose.  If granting of such exemption is not essential  or necessary for effectuating such a purpose no such  exemption can  be granted  so as to bypass the  thrust  of  the    main
provisions of the Act.       We, therefore, reject the contention of  the learned counsel for the appellants that even for  an optional religious purpose exemption can be validly  granted under  Section 12.  In this connection it is also  necessary to consider Quareshi case1 which was heavily relied upon  by the High Court. The total ban on slaughter of cows even  on BakrI'd          day  as imposed by Bihar  Legislature       under  Bihar Preservation  and  Improvement  of  Animals  Act,  1955 was attacked  as  violative   of the  fundamental  right  of  the petitioners under Article 25 of the Constitution.  Repelling this contention the Constitution Bench held that even though Article 25(1) granted to all persons the freedom to profess, practise  and  propagate religion, as slaughter of  cows  on BakrI'd was not an essential religious practice for Muslims,total  ban on cow's slaughter on all days including  BakrI'dday  would  not be violative of Article 25(1).          As  we  havenoted  earlier the Constitution Bench speaking  through            DasC.J., held that it was optional for the Muslims to sacrifice a cow on behalf of seven persons on BakrI'd but it does  notappear to be obligatory that a person must sacrifice a   cow. It  was further observed by the Constitution Bench that  the very  fact of an option seemed to run counter to the  notion of an obligatory duty. One submission was also noted that a person       with  six other members of his family may  afford  to sacrifice  a cow but may not be able to afford to  sacrifice seven  goats, and it was observed that in such a case  there may  be        an  economic  compulsion  although  there  was           noreligious compulsion.  In this connection,  Das C.J. referred to the historical  background regarding   cow slaughtering  from  the  times of   Mughal emperors.    Mughal   Emperor  Babur  saw  the wisdom ofprohibiting the slaughter of cows as and by way of religious sacrifice  and directed  his son Humayun  to  follow  this. Similarly,  Emperors Akbar, Jehangir and Ahmad Shah,  it  is said,  prohibited  cow slaughter.  In the  light  of this historical  background       it was held tha total ban  on  cow slaughter did not offend Article 25(1) of the Constitution.
9.In view of this settled legal position it becomes  obvious that if there is no fundamental right of a Muslim to  insist on  slaughter of healthy cow on BakrI'd day, it cannot be  a valid  ground  for exemption by the State underSection 12 which  would  in turn enable slaughtering of  such  cows  on BakrI'd.    The      contention  of learned  counsel  for  the appellants that Article 25(1) of the Constitution deals with essential  religious practices while Section 12 of  the Act may   cover  even  optional  religious      practices   is not acceptable.   No  such meaning can be assignedto  such  an exemption clause which seeks to whittle down and dilute  the main  provision of the Act, namely, Section 4 which  is the very  heart  of the Act.  If the appellants'  contention  is accepted then the State can exempt from the operation of the Act,  the slaughter of healthy cows even  for  non-essential religious, medicinal or research purpose, as we have to give the  same meaning to the three purposes, namely,  religious, medicinal  or research purpose, as envisaged by Section   12. It becomes obvious that if for fructifying any medicinal  or research purpose it is not necessary or essential to  permit slaughter  of healthy cow, then there would be        no  occasion for the State to invoke exemption power under Section 12  of the  Act  for such a purpose.  Similarly it has to  be held hat if it is not necessary or essential to permit slaughter of  a  healthy cow for any religious purpose  it  would  be equally not open to the State to invoke its exemption  power under  Section12  for such  a  religious  purpose. We, therefore,  entirely concur with the view of the High  Court that  slaughtering  of      healthy cows  on  BakrI'd  is    not essential or required for religious purpose of Muslims or in other words it is not a part of religious requirement for  a Muslim that a cow must be necessarily sacrificed for earning religious merit on BakrI'd.
10.We  may also mention one submission of Mr  Tarkunde       that India  is a secular democratic country and,  therefore, the State has to respect the wishes of minority.  In the appeals at hand we are concerned with the short question whether  in the  light  of clear wording of Section 12,  the  State can exempt from the operation of the Act slaughtering of healthy cows  on BakrI'd.  For deciding this, ours being  a  secular country would not be relevant.   Mr Tarkunde next  submitted that as per Gujara Rules slaughtering of cows on BakrI'd is considered a bona fide religious purpose.  Even this  aspect is not relevant for deciding the parameters of Section 12 of the West Bengal Act, even if that be the position in Gujarat presently, which is not so according to the learned  counsel for the respondents.
11.We  may  also deal with the effort made  by   the  learned counsel for the appellants to distinguish Quareshi case1  on the ground that for interpreting the term 'religious' under Articles 25 and 26, a  restricted meaning  was  given  for balancing  the     secular  nature  of democracy on the one hand and the interest of the individual so far as right to practise any religion is concerned on the other. In this connection, our attention was invited to the decisions of this Court in Tilkayat Shri Govindlalji Maharaj
v. State of Rajasthan 4 and Durgah Committee v. Syed  Hussain Ali5.  These decisions are of no avail to the appellants  as therein while   dealing witthe question  of validity  of certain enactments,  scope  of Articles 25 and 26  of the Constitution  was  spelt out and nothing has  been  held  in these  decisions  which is contrary to what was     decided  in Quareshi  case1, which we have noted in detail. The effort made  by  teamed counsel for the appellants to get  any   and every religious practice covered by Section 12 also is of no avail  for the simple reason that in the context of  Section12  the religious practice must be such which  requires the invocation of exemption provision under Section 12 so as  to bypass            the main thrust of Section 4. For such an  exercise non-essential religious practices cannot be made the  basis. Reliance  placed  on the decision of this Court  in  Hazarat Pirmahomed Shah Saheb Roza Committee v. C.LT6 also is of  no assistance  as the same refers to Section 11 of the  Income Tax Act, the scheme of which is entirely different from that of  the Act.  Even if we agree with learned counsel for the appellants that slaughter of a healthy cow on BakrI'd is for a  religious  purpose, so long as it is not shown to  be  an essential  religious  purpose as discussed  by      us  earlier, Section       12  of  the Act cannot be pressed  in service for buttressing such a non-essential religious purpose.
12.Before  parting  we may  mention  that  one preliminary objection  was raised before theHigh Court aboutthe petitioners'  locus standi to move the writ  petition. The High Court held that it was a public interest litigation and the  writ petitioners have sufficient locus standi  to    move the  petition.That finding of the  High  Court  was          not challenged by any of the appellants.  In our view rightly so as  the writ petitioners representing a  Hindu segment  of society had felt aggrieved by the impugned exemption granted by  the State.They had no personal interest but a  general cause  to project. 
On sequently, they had sufficient  locus standi to move the petition.  Rule 7 framed under the Act, provides that provisions of the West Bengal Animal Slaughter Control Act, 1950, shall not apply to the slaughter of any animal for religious, medicinal or research purpose  subject to  the condition that such slaughter does notaffect the religious  sentiment  of  the neighbours of  the  person  or persons performing  such slaughter and       that  the  previous permission of the State Government or any officer authorisedby  it  is obtained before the slaughter.  The case  of  the original writ petitioners before the High Court was based onreligious  sentiments  and, therefore,they had moved this public interest  litigation.  In  these  circumstances,  no fault could be  found  with the decision of the High  Court recognizing locus standi of the original petitioners to move thispublic interest litigation which we have found to be well justified on merits.
13.In the result, we confirm the decision of the High  Court and dismiss these appeals.  Interim reliefs granted  earlier during the pendency of the appeals shall stand vacated.In the  facts and circumstances of the case, there will  be  no order as to costs…………… Sd/- J. Majumdar

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