The Supreme Court has stayed an order passed by the Madras High Court permitting the police to hand over the custody of two cows and an ox to a beef stall owner. The apex court has ordered that the cattle shall not be returned until the conclusion of a trial in a criminal case booked against the shop owner.
A Bench of Justices Surya Kant and J.K. Maheshwari have passed the orders on a special leave petition (SLP) preferred by M. Vignesh of All Mighty Animal Care Trust. It was on a complaint lodged by the petitioner that the Periyapalayam police in Tiruvallur district had registered the case against S. Mohamad Usman in 2020.
According to the complainant, the beef stall owner was attempting to slaughter the three animals illegally during the COVID-19 lockdown period. Hence, the police had booked him under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code and also invoked the Tamil Nadu Animal Preservation Act of 1958.
The two cows and the ox were seized and produced before the Uthukottai Judicial Magistrate who ordered their safe custody at a goshala administered by the petitioner. Pending investigation into the case, the beef stall owner moved an application before the Magistrate seeking interim custody of the animals.
The Magistrate permitted the beef stall owner to take custody of the animals on condition that they must be taken for examination before a Government veterinarian who, in turn, was ordered to file a report before the court with respect to the age and the health condition of the three animals.
The Magistrate also ordered that the animals should be maintained well and not sold to anyone till the filing of the veterinarian’s report. Aggrieved over such order, Mr. Vignesh challenged it before the High Court but the latter refused to interfere with the Magistrate’s order on June 16 last year leading to the SLP.