Does possession of skin of dead animals constitute an offence? Bombay High Court answers

The High Court Bench at Nagpur opined that since there is no prohibition on possession of skin of dead animals it cannot constitute an offence
Does possession of skin of dead animals constitute an offence? Bombay High Court answers
Justice VM Deshpande, Justice AS Kilor

There is no statutory prohibition on possession of skin of dead animals, the Bombay High Court recently ruled quashing an FIR registered against a person for carrying 187 skins of cow species.

The High Court Bench at Nagpur was approached with a plea to quash an FIR against one Shafiqullaha Kha who was accused under provisions of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976 (MAPA) and Indian Penal Code (IPC) for carrying 187 skins of cows.

A Division Bench of Justices VM Deshpande and AS Kilor came to the conclusion that since there is no statutory prohibition on possession of skin of dead animals, no offence is attracted in the matter and proceeded to quash the FIR against Kha.

“There is no prohibition for the possession of skin of dead animals and in absence of such prohibition, we have of a convinced view that no offence attracts in the present matter,” the Court said.

Kha was charged for offences punishable under Sections 5A (prohibition on transfer of cattle for the purpose of slaughter within or outside the State), 5B (prohibits purchase, sell of cattle for slaughter), 5C (possession of slaughtered flesh of any cattle), 9, 9A (penalty for contravening Sections 5A, 5B and 5C) of MAPA.

There is no prohibition for the possession of skin of dead animals.
Bombay High Court

The Court observed that there were no allegations pertaining to transport, export, purchase or sale of cow, bull or bullock for the purpose of slaughter in contravention of provision of the Act, 1976. Thus, no offence was made out against Kha under Sections 5A or 5B of the Act.

In order to examine if Kha could be charged under Section 5C of the Act, the Court deemed it necessary to consider the difference between the terms ‘skin’ and ‘flesh’.

The Court discovered that the main difference between ‘skin’ and ‘flesh’ is that the ‘skin’ is a soft outer covering organ of vertebrates and the ‘flesh’ is a soft substance of an animal body that consists of muscle and fat.

They deduced that the word ‘flesh’ used in Section 5C does not include the ‘skin’ of animal.

After a thorough examination of all provisions charged against Kha, the Court was convinced that there is no prohibition for the possession of skin of dead animals and in the absence of such prohibition, no offence under Sections 5A, 5B, 5C was attracted in the present matter and consequently Section 9 and 9A also would not attract.

Regarding the offence charged under IPC, Section 188 (disobedience of order of public servant), the Court held that since there was neither a statutory provision prohibiting possession nor a legislative document with a statutory force there was no question of contravening the IPC provision.

In view of the same, the court found there was no offence against Kha and quashed the FIR against him.

[Read order]

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Shafiqullaha Kha v. State of Maharashtra.pdf
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