20 Nov 2023 5:15 AM GMT
The Rajasthan High Court recently quashed the criminal proceedings initiated against the Deputy General Manager of a company for allegedly dumping polythene at a grazing ground, thereby "slaughtering" six of complainant's cattle.The single judge bench comprising Justice Farjand Ali noted that Section 3 of the Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary...
The Rajasthan High Court recently quashed the criminal proceedings initiated against the Deputy General Manager of a company for allegedly dumping polythene at a grazing ground, thereby "slaughtering" six of complainant's cattle.
The single judge bench comprising Justice Farjand Ali noted that Section 3 of the Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 1995 (the Act of 1995) relates to prohibition of slaughter of any bovine animal of which "intention" is an essential ingredient. It observed no offence of slaughter as provided under Sections 3 and 8 of the Act were made out against the accused.
“Neither does it seem logical to infer that the company placed polythene intentionally where the cows come to graze nor do the facts and circumstances of the case reflect any intentional placing/disposing of polythene or waste material anywhere in order to slaughter the cows or cause the cows to be slaughtered or offer them or cause them to be offered for slaughter, therefore, no offence under Section 3 of the Act is made out,” Justice Ali observed.
The allegation in the FIR was that Sujlon Infrastructure Company Ltd. is dumping polythene at the place where the complainant party takes their cattle for grazing and owing to eating of the same, six cattle died on July 12, 2011 and two on July 13, 2011. However, after the investigation, the police filed a negative report. Subsequently, on a protest petition filed by the complainant, the trial court took cognizance of the said offences by passing the impugned order.
The Counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that the waste including polythene is disposed of in accordance with the norms applicable. It was further submitted that at the same time, some 200 cows had died owing to hemorrhagic septicimia and the complainant party took advantage of the same by filing the present case against the petitioner.
The Court observed the following reasons to quash the criminal proceedings against the petitioner:
-Section 3 of the Act relates to prohibition of slaughter of any bovine animal and no offence under this provision can be made out sans slaughter for which intention is an essential ingredient.
-The principle of vicarious liability does not apply here, thus, the petitioner who is the head of the company cannot be held liable for the actions taken by his employees or by the company per se.
-The investigation conducted clearly reveals that there is no involvement of the petitioner in the alleged crime as a negative final report has been filed.
“Moreover, it is not comprehensible how an owner or head of the company who might not even be in the same city as the plant/factory/site can be held responsible for an animal dying due to choking owing to swallowing of a polythene which can fly from anywhere and get stuck/ accumulated at another place,” the Court said.
The Court quashed the criminal proceedings against the petitioner and set aside the impugned order on the ground that material collected by the agency till date, a prima facie case is not fathomable against the petitioner.
The Court further noted:
“The learned magistrate has not applied his mind aptly in the matter as it is not understandable as to how when neither the ingredients of the offence were present nor was it logical to make an assumption, or even an inference for that matter, by any stretch of imagination that the bovine animals must have ingested the very polythene that was disposed by the company, then how did the magistrate take cognizance of the alleged offence against the company head i.e. the petitioner.”
It was pointed by the Court that how can a company head be held liable for ingestion of polythene by cows while grazing near one of the sites of his company.
“It is not just required to go through the material available on record or read what has been stated in the negative Final report or other documents and discuss the same in the order passed but it is also required of the court to apply its mind in light of the law applicable in the matter as well as the feasibility of commission of the alleged crime from the facts and circumstances of the case,” the Court said.
In this context, the Court directed the Registrar General to forward a copy of the present order to the said magistrate.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Raj) 102
Case Name: Ketan Soni v. State of Rajasthan & Ors.
Case No.: S.B. Criminal Misc (Pet.) No. 3960/2019
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