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Above: The Court’s censure is likely to put the Manohar Lal Khattar government in a spot/Photo: UNI

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has indicted the Haryana government and its police for failing to arrest those involved  in cow slaughter and for the poor conviction rate

By Vipin Pubby in Chandigarh

One of the first major decisions taken by the BJP government in Haryana was to enact a law to ban cow slaughter. The law, Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015, provided for a ban on the sale of beef and imprisonment of not less than three years and up to 10 years if anyone was found slaughtering cows or selling beef, along with a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh. It included an additional imprisonment of up to one year if the fine was not paid. It also said that if any person was found transporting cows for slaughter, he would be sentenced to imprisonment for up to seven years or have to pay a fine of up to Rs 70,000 or both.

As per official records, Haryana has a population of three lakh cows in 400 gaushalas, 1.5 lakh stray cows and 18 lakh domestic cows. The ban was also imposed on canned beef which was earlier legal. The government and the state police went into overdrive, registering FIRs and arresting suspects. Several instances of lynching and attacks on transporters were also reported then.

Now, after a gap of over four years, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has pulled up the state for the failure of the police to arrest those involved in cow slaughter and for the poor conviction rate in Nuh district where the largest number of such cases was registered.

As per an affidavit filed by the Haryana Police, out of 2,156 accused, only 1,194 have been arrested. The police were able to arrest only 236 law breakers on the spot and the rest of the 958 were arrested later. The affidavit also revealed that 103 accused were declared proclaimed offenders. The affidavit stated that a total of 792 FIRs were registered in Nuh district, out of which only in 96 cases were the accused apprehended on the spot, while in the remaining 696 cases, they managed to escape. It accepted that in 386 cases, as many as 856 accused are yet to be arrested.

The Court scathingly said that the “extreme failure on the part of the prosecution/police can be inferred from the affidavit that till date, total 13 criminal cases have been decided by the Court(s) of competent jurisdiction in this district for commission of offences under the Act of 2015 and all the cases resulted in the acquittal and not even a single person has been convicted”.

The Court said the perusal of the affidavit “reveals that situation in the District Nuh for implementation of the Act of 2015 and control of crime is quite disturbing and almost has gone beyond the control of the State police as the offences are being committed by hardcore smugglers, fully trained and that too in a well planned manner on large scale in an organised way”. It said that the contents of the affidavit show “that there is a complete inaction on the part of the police of District Mewat or deliberately the accused are let go; or there is a question mark for registration of these cases”.

The Court said “it is clear that the situation is quite alarming and mere registration of the FIRs for commission of the offences under the Act of 2015, resulting in 100% acquittal by the trial Court(s) can only be termed as a police paradise and by no stretch of imagination, it can be accepted that law enforcement agency is successful in any manner for implementation of the provisions of the Act of 2015 in District Nuh”.

It directed that all 13 cases resulting in acquittal be examined by the director general of police as well as the advocate general, Haryana, and that they should “apprise the Court about the reasons for failure on the part of the prosecution by way of an affidavit to find out the solution of the malaise before it is too late, resulting in total breakdown of law and order situation in District Nuh”.

With assembly elections again on the horizon, the Court’s indictment is likely to put the Khattar government in an embarrassing position. The hearing has been adjourned to April 24.

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