Ruling that the accused is not alleged to have indulged in the economic activity of cow slaughter, the Gujarat High Court suspended 10-year imprisonment awarded by a sessions court to a man from Dhoraji town in Rajkot district for allegedly slaughtering a cow.
“Having heard learned advocates for the respective parties on overall consideration of material on record as well as the fact that the applicant is not alleged to have indulged into economical activity of animal slaughter and is only alleged to have used the beef while preparing biryani for celebrating the marriage ceremony of his own daughter, this Court is of the opinion to exercise the judicial discretion to suspend the sentence and accordingly suspends the sentence imposed upon the applicant,” the single-judge bench of Justice RP Dholaria noted in its order issued on Wednesday.
The High Court ordered the immediate release of Salim Makrani, the Dhoraji man whom the Dhoraji bench of Rajkot district and sessions court had convicted of cow slaughter and sentenced to 10-year-imprisonment on July 7 this year. The High Court asked Makrani to execute a personal bail bond of Rs 10,000 and one surety of like amount for his release from jail while he pursues his appeal against the sessions court judgment. The court also directed the applicant to surrender his passport, if any, to the trial court.
Police had booked Makrani for cow slaughter and theft after his neighbour Satar Koliya had filed a complaint with Dhoraji police on January 29 this year. Koliya had alleged that Makrani, a casual labourer, stole his two-year-old calf, slaughtered it and prepared akani (a biryani-like preparation) to serve guests at the feast on the occasion of the marriage of his daughter. The Dhoraji court had had also imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on him.
This was the first reported conviction in the state under the amended Gujarat Animal Preservation Act.
However, Makrani had moved the High Court against the ruling of Dhoraji sessions court and the bench of Justice Dholaria suspended the sentencing pending final disposal of his appeal.
While seeking suspension of sentence, Makrani’s lawyer Smir Khan pleaded that the applicant had become a victim of circumstances. “…even if the allegation levelled against the applicant may be believed to be true, then also, this is not a case of animal slaughtering. …applicant has become a victim of circumstances as he was to celebrate the marriage ceremony of his own daughter and while preparing biryani, the beef was used, however the same is not getting any sort of support by conclusive proof from FSL… The applicant is not involved in any such economical activity and this is the solitary incident,” the High Court order quoted Khan as having argued.
The additional public prosecutor opposed the suspension of sentencing, saying that provisions recently inserted in the Gujarat Animal Preservation Act provided stringent punishments for cow slaughter. However, the bench exercised its judicial discretion while suspending the sentence awarded to Makrani.
Since his arrest in a dramatic fashion when the marriage ceremony of his daughter was in progress on January 29, Makrani has remained in police custody or judicial custody. Sources close to the Makrani family told The Indian Express on Friday that they were expecting formalities of obtaining relevant documents from the High Court today and were expecting Makrani’s release later this evening.