Published on: November 20, 2023 at 11:30 IST
In a recent development, the Rajasthan High Court has dismissed criminal proceedings against the Deputy General Manager of a company accused of dumping polythene on a grazing ground, allegedly causing the “slaughter” of six cattle.
The single-judge bench, headed by Justice Farjand Ali, highlighted that Section 3 of the Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 1995, mandates “intention” as an essential element for the prohibition of slaughter.
The court ruled that no offense of slaughter, as outlined in Sections 3 and 8 of the Act, was established against the accused.
The allegation in the FIR suggested that Sujlon Infrastructure Company Ltd. dumped polythene at the location where the complainant party grazed their cattle. Consequently, six cattle reportedly died on July 12, 2011, and two on July 13, 2011. However, following the investigation, the police submitted a negative report. Subsequently, on a protest petition from the complainant, the trial court initiated the said offenses by passing the impugned order.
The petitioner’s counsel argued that waste, including polythene, is disposed of following applicable norms. Additionally, it was asserted that around the same time, approximately 200 cows died due to hemorrhagic septicemia, and the complainant exploited the situation by filing the present case against the petitioner.
The court identified several reasons to quash the criminal proceedings against the petitioner:
- Section 3 of the Act pertains to the prohibition of slaughter, and no offense under this provision can be established without slaughter, where intention is an essential ingredient.
- The principle of vicarious liability does not apply in this case, absolving the petitioner, who is the head of the company, from liability for the actions taken by employees or the company itself.
- The investigation clearly revealed no involvement of the petitioner in the alleged crime, supported by a negative final report.
The court questioned the rationale behind holding the owner or head of a company responsible for an animal’s death due to choking on polythene, which could have flown from anywhere and accumulated at another location. Consequently, the court quashed the criminal proceedings against the petitioner and set aside the impugned order, citing a lack of prima facie evidence.
Furthermore, the court directed the Registrar General to forward a copy of the order to the concerned magistrate, emphasizing the importance of applying the law in light of the circumstances surrounding the alleged crime.
Case: Ketan Soni v. State of Rajasthan & Ors.