A sessions court in Lunawada of Mahisagar district Wednesday sentenced two persons to 10 years imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 2 lakh each in a 2021 case of transporting beef in Virpur. However, the court acquitted the two from the charges of public nuisance, hurting religious sentiments, and slaughter, stating the prosecution was “unable to establish” the guilt of the accused.
The sessions judge held that the two accused—Asghar Hussain Ghulam Hussain Dhori, 29, and Fazalunissa alias Farzanabanu Mohammad Rafiq Shaikh, 54, both residents of Modasa in Aravalli—guilty of transporting beef for sale, prohibited under sections of the Gujarat Animal Preservation Act, 1954. The court upheld the prosecution case that the two were involved in the business of transporting and selling beef.
However, it also held that the prosecution had failed to prove that the accused slaughtered the cow and did so with the intention of hurting religious sentiments. The court awarded 10 years of simple imprisonment and a concurrent sentence of seven years of simple imprisonment as well as a fine of Rs 2 lakh each to both accused.
The FIR in the case was lodged at the Virpur police station on June 7, 2021—three days after a Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report confirmed that the samples of meat seized were that of beef. The accused were apprehended from Modasa-Virpur road on May 30, 2021, while transporting 50 kilos of beef worth Rs 4,000 packed in three plastic bags in an auto rickshaw belonging to Dhori. The police had also seized the auto rickshaw, which the court has now directed to be released.
The court also rejected the defence claim that the “delay” in registering the FIR should be held against the prosecution, observing that an FIR “can be booked only if the FSL confirms the sample to be that of cow beef”.
The accused were arrested under Sections of the Gujarat Animal Preservation Act, 1954 Sections prohibiting slaughter, sale and purchase as well as transport of cow beef and Indian Penal Code Sections for public nuisance (268), injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class (295), and mischief by killing or maiming cattle (429) as well as Gujarat Police Act.