New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Delhi High Court today dismissed a request by a Hindu cleric seeking a ban on cow slaughter and beef sale in India’s National Capital region (NCR).
The petition, filed by Swami Satyananda Chakradhari, a self-style monk, wanted the court to direct the state government to enact a law similar to the 1932 Ranbir Penal Code, applicable in Jammu and Kashmir, which states that slaughter of cows and "like animals" was punishable with up to ten years of imprisonment as well as a financial penalty.
The plea also called for the court to direct state and Union governments to enact a law banning the “import/export and sale of beef and its products across Delhi and NCR".
Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath dismissed the plea saying the petition is "misconceived", noting that the Delhi government has informed the court that it already has an act, the Delhi Agriculture Cattle Preservation Act, 1994, to prevent such acts.
For Additional Standing counsel Sanjoy Ghose, appearing for the state government, the petition was a publicity stunt. Under the existing Act, he told the court, "No person shall transport or offer for transport or cause to be transported agricultural cattle from any place within Delhi to any place outside Delhi, for the purpose of its slaughter, knowing that it is likely to be slaughtered."
He went on to say that the Delhi government had five facilities with a capacity for 23,000 animals, with only around 10,000 heads of cattle currently sheltered.
The High Court ruling comes at a time when the debate in India over beef is gaining more and more public traction.
In Hinduism, the cow is considered sacred. Slaughtering the animal is banned in a number of Indian states, including Maharashtra. In the latter, violators could get up to five years in prison for eating beef.
Against such a background, Hindu radicals often carry out violent attacks minority Christians and Muslims who trade in cattle and eat its byproducts.
In some cases, the violence can get out hand. For example, a Muslim man was recently lynched by a mob in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh on the mere "suspicion" of having eaten beef he had raised.