Jaipur: A judge of the Rajasthan High Court today recommended that the cow be declared the national animal of India and also that punishment in the state for cow slaughter be increased from the current 10 years' imprisonment to a life term.
- Make cow national animal, Rajasthan High Court recommends
- Court observation during judgement on petition related to cow shelter
- Increase punishment for cow slaughter to life term, judge recommended
Judge Mahesh Chandra Sharma said Rajasthan's most senior bureaucrat, the Chief Secretary, must coordinate with the Centre on his recommendation. "Nepal is a Hindu nation and has declared the cow as its national animal...It is expected from the state government that they should take action to get a legal entity for the cow in this country," said Justice Sharma, who retires today.
The judge was hearing a compliance report on the management of a cow shelter near state capital Jaipur, when he made the observations. He told NDTV that his 20-point recommendations in court today were "the voice of my soul," describing himself as "a devotee of Lord Shiv who revers the cow."
Even the petitioner in the original cow shelter case Poonam Chand Bhandari was taken aback, saying his plea had not included this. Judgement in his case on the mismanagement of the cow shelter was given by Justice Sharma four years ago.
"We will study the recommendations and see legally what is implementable. These are not binding of course, but they are to be taken seriously," said Additional Advocate General GS Gill who attended the compliance meeting in court today on behalf of the state government.
Justice Sharma said his recommendations in court today were not linked to the beef debate raging across the country and he refused to comment on the Madras High Court putting on hold on Tuesday the Centre's new restrictions on sale and slaughter of cattle.
There have been protests in Tamil Nadu and several other states, with protesters saying the rules violate their right to eat food of their choice. Governments in states like West Bengal and Kerala have refused to implement the new rules, accusing the Centre of infringing on states' powers to frame their own laws on animal slaughter.
The Centre has used animal cruelty rules, which can be enforced nationally, to order that animal markets will only be able to trade cattle for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and dairy production. It said cattle for slaughter will have to be bought from farmers directly in a move that hits meat traders, who have said they plan to move court.
Critics say the ban will embolden cow vigilantes at a time when they have taken to frequent attacks on slaughterhouses and cattle traders.
In Rajasthan, where the BJP is in power. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje stressed yesterday that firm action will be taken against those behind violent crimes, including cow vigilantes. "The law of the land prevails in Rajasthan, and the government will ensure the culprits are brought to book," she said.
In April, "gau rakshaks" or cow vigilantes attacked a 55-year-old cattle trader, Pehlu Khan in Alwar and four others. Pehlu Khan died, his companions were injured.