Abdul Hakim Quraishi & Ors Vs. The
State of Bihar  INSC 215 (23 November 1960)
IMAM, SYED JAFFER KAPUR, J.L.
CITATION: 1961 AIR 448 1961 SCR (2) 610
CITATOR INFO :
RF 1962 SC1371 (42,64) RF 1970 SC 93 (5) RF
1986 SC1205 (6) RF 1986 SC1213 (12)
Cattle Preservation--Ban on slaguhter of
cattle below 20 or 25 years of age--Whether reasonable--Bihar Preservation and
Improvement of Animals (Amendment) Act, 1959 (Bihar 1 of 1959), s. 3--Bihar
Preservation and Improvement of Animals Rules,1960, r. 3--Uttar Pradesh
Prevention of Cow Slaughter (Amendment) Act, 1958 (U. P. 33 of 1958), s.
3--Madhya Pradesh Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act, 1959 (M. P. 18 of
1959), ss. 4(2)(a) and 5.
In Mohd. Hanif Quareshi v. The State of Bihar
the Supreme Court held that a total ban on the slaughter of bulls, bullocks and
she-buffaloes after they had ceased to be useful was not in the interests of
the general public and was invalid. Thereafter, the Bihar Legislature passed
the Bihar Preservation and Improvement of Animals (Amendment) Act, 1958, the
Uttar Pradesh Legislature passed the U. P.
Prevention of Cow Slaughter (Amendment) Act,
1958 and the Madhya Pradesh Legislature passed a new Act, the M. P. Agricultural
Cattle Preservation Act, 1959.
Section 3 of the Bihar Act prohibited the
slaughter of a bull, bullock or she-buffalo except when it was over 25 years of
age and had become useless. Rule 3 of the Bihar Preservation and Improvement of
Animals Rules, 1960 prescribed that the certificate for slaughtering an animal
could be granted only with the concurrence of the Veterinary Officer and the
Chairman or Chief Officer of a District Board, Municipality etc., and if the
two differed, then according to the decision of the Sub-Divisional Animal
Section 3 of the U. P. Act permitted the
slaughter of a bull or bullock only if it was over 20 years of age and was
permanently unfit. It further provided that the animal could not be slaughtered
within 20 days of the grant of 'a certificate that it was fit to be slaughtered
and gave a right of appeal to any person aggrieved by the order granting the
Section 4(1)(b) of the Madhya Pradesh Act
provided that no bull, bullock or buffallo could be slaughtered except upon a
certificate issued by the competent authority and s. 4(2)(a) provided that no
certificate could be issued unless the animal was over 20 years of age and was
unfit for work or breeding. Section 4(3) gave a right of appeal to any person
aggrieved by the order of the competent authority. Section 5 provided that no
animal 611 shall be slaughtered within 10 days of the date of the issue of the
certificate and where an appeal was preferred against the grant of the certificate,
till the time such appeal was disposed of.
The petitioners, who carried on the
profession and trade of butchers, contended that the various provisions of the
three Acts set out above infringed their fundamental rights by practically
putting a total ban on the slaughter of bulls, bullocks and she-buffaloes even
after the animal had ceased to be useful and thus virtually put an end to their
profession and trade.
Held, (i) that the ban on the slaughter of
bulls, bullocks and she-buffaloes below the age of 20 or 25 years was not a
reasonable restriction in the interests of the general public and was void. A
bull, bullock or buffalo did not remain useful after 15 years, and whatever
little use it may have then was greatly offset by the economic disadvantages of
feeding and maintaining unserviceable cattle. The additional condition that the
animal must, apart from being above 20 or 25 years of age, also be unfit was a
further unreasonable restriction. Section 3 of the Bihar Act, s. 3 of the U. P.
Act and s. 4(2)(a) of the M. P. Act were invalid.
(ii) Rule 3 of the Bihar Rules was bad as it
imposed dis-proportionate restrictions on the rights of the petitioners.
The procedure involved such expenditure of
money and time as made the obtaining of the certificate not worthwhile.
(iii) The provisions in the Uttar Pradesh and
Madhya Pradesh Acts providing that the animal shall not be slaughtered within
20 and10 days respectively of the issue of the certificate and that any person
aggrieved by the order of the competent authority, may appeal against it, were
likely to hold up the slaughter of the animal for a long time and practically
put a total ban on slaughter of bulls, bullocks and buffaloes even after they
had ceased to be useful.
These provisions imposed unreasonable
restrictions on the fundamental rights of the petitioners and were void.
Mohd. Hanif Quareshi v. The State of Bihar,
 S.C.R. 629, State of Madras v. V. G. Row,  S.C.R. 597 and The
State of Bihar v. Maharajadhiraja Sir Kameshwar Singh of Darbhanga, 
S.C.R. 889, referred to.
ORIGINAL JURISDICTION: Petitions Nos. 15 of
1959, 14 of 1960 and 21 of 1959.
Petitions under Art. 32 of the Constitution
of India for enforcement of Fundamental Rights.
Frank Anthony and J. B. Dadachanji, for the
petitioners (In Petns. Nos. 15 and 21 of 1959).
612 H. J. Umrigar, O. P. Rana and A. G.
Ratnaparkhi, for the petitioners (In Petn. No. 14 of 1960).
L. K. Jha and S. P. Varma, for the respondent
(In Petn. No. 15 of 1959).
C. K. Daphtary, Solicitor-General of India,
M. Adhikari, Advocate-General for the State of Madhya Pradesh and I. N. Shroff,
for the respondent (In Petn. No. 14 of 1960).
H. N. Sanyal, Additional Solicitor-General of
India and C. P. Lal, for the respondent (In Petn. No. 21 of 1959).
1960. November 23. The Judgment of the Court
was delivered by S. K. DAS, J.-These three writ petitions have been heard
together, as they raise common questions of law and fact.
They relate, however, to three different
enactments made by the Legislatures of three different States-Bihar in writ
petition No. 15, Uttar Pradesh in writ petition No. 21, and Madhya Pradesh in
writ petition No. 14. The petitioners in the several petitions have challenged
the 'validity of a number of provisions of the enactments in question and, in
some cases, also of the rules made thereunder. The impugned provisions are
similar in nature, but are not exactly the same. Therefore, we shall first
state in general terms the case of the petitioners and then consider in detail
and separately the impugned provisions in each case. But before we do so, it is
necessary to refer to some background history of the legislation under
consideration in these cases.
In the year 1958 this Court had to consider
the validity of certain provisions of three Acts:
(1) The Bihar Preservation and Improvement of
Animals Act, (Bihar Act II of 1956);
(2) the Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow
Slaughter Act, 1955 (U. P. Act 1 of 1956); and (3) the Central Provinces and
Berar Animal Preservation Act, 1949 (C. P. and Berar Act LII of 1949).
The Bihar Act put a total ban on the
slaughter of all 613 categories of animals of the species of bovine cattle. The
U. P. Act put a total ban on the slaughter of cows and her progeny which
included bulls, bullocks, heifers and calves.
The C. P. and Berar Act placed a total ban on
the slaughter of cows, male or female calves of cows, bulls, bullocks, and
heifers, and the slaughter of buffaloes (male or female, adults or calves) was
permitted only under a certificate granted by the proper authorities. These
three Acts were enacted in pursuance of the directive principle of State policy
contained in Art. 48 of the Constitution. The petitioners who challenged the
various provisions of the aforesaid Acts in 1958 were engaged in the butcher's
trade and its subsidiary undertakings; they challenged the constitutional
validity of the Acts on the ground that they infringed their fundamental rights
under Arts. 14, 19(1)(f) and (g) of the Constitution. In the decision which this
Court gave in Mohd. Hanif Quareshi v. The State, of Bihar (1), it held(i) that
a total ban on the slaughter of cows of all ages and calves of cows and of
she-buffaloes, male or female, was quite reasonable and valid;
(ii) that a total ban on the slaughter of
she-buffaloes or breeding bulls, or working bullocks (cattle as well as
buffaloes) so long as they were capable of being used as milch or draught
cattle was also reasonable and valid; and (iii) that a total ban on slaughter
of she-buffaloes, bulls and bullocks (cattle or buffalo) after they ceased to
be capable of yielding milk or of breeding or working as draught animals was
not in the interests of the general public and was invalid.
In the result this Court directed the
respondent States not to enforce their respective Acts in so far as they were
declared void by it. This led to some amending or new legislation, and we are
concerned in these three cases with the provisions of these amending or new
Acts and the rules made there under. In Bihar (Writ Petition No. 15 of 1959)
the impugned Act is called the Bihar Preservation and Improvement of Animals
(1)  S.C.R. 629.
78 614 (Amendment) Act, 1959 which received
the assent of the Governor on January 13, 1959. in Uttar Pradesh (Writ Petition
No. 21 of 1959) the impugned Act is called the Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow
Slaughter (Amendment) Act, 1958 and in Madhya Pradesh (Writ Petition No' 14 of
1960) a new Act was passed called the Madhya Pradesh Agricultural Cattle
Preservation Act, 1959 (Act 18 of 1959) which received the assent of the
President on July 24, 1959 and came into force on January 15, 1960. The rules
made thereunder are called the Madhya Pradesh Agricultural Cattle Preservation
The general case of the petitioners, who are
several in number in each of the three cases, is that they are citizens of
India and carry on their profession and trade of butchers; they allege that the
various provisions of the impugned legislation infringe their fundamental
rights in that they, for all practical purposes, have put a total ban on the
slaughter of she-buffaloes, bulls or bullocks, even after such animals have
ceased to be useful, and have virtually put an end to their profession and
trade. It is pointed out that the age up to which the animals referred to above
cannot be slaughtered (20 or 25 years) has been put so high that the practical
effect is that no animals can be slaughtered, and the amending or new
legislation has put in other restrictions so arbitrary and unreasonable in nature
that in effect they amount to a prohibition or destruction of the petitioner's
right to carry on their trade and profession. The following allegations quoted
from one of the petitions (Writ Petition No. 15 of 1959) give a general idea of
the nature of the case which the petitioners have put forward:
"That there is good professional
authority for the view that even in countries where animal husbandry is
organised on a highly progressive and scientific basis, cattle seldom live
beyond 15 or 16 years.
That there is also good authority to the
effect that even pedigree breeding bulls are usually discarded at the age of 12
or 14 years. , That in India bulls and bullocks and she-buffaloes rarely live
even up to the age of 15 years; draught bullocks begin to age after eight
years, 615 That the raising of the age limit from 15 to 20 years is arbitrary,
unreasonable and against the general public interests and is repugnant to and
infringes the, fundamental rights of the, petitioners under Article 19 (1)(f) and
(g) of the Constitution.
That section 3 of the amending Act is a mala
fide, colourable exercise of power, repugnant to the fundamental rights of the
-petitioners under Article 19 (1)(f) and (g).
That this arbitrary raising of the age limit
will be against the public interests For the following among' other reasons:
(i) That there will, in fact, be no bulls or
bullocks or she-buffaloes available for slaughter as few, if any, of such
animals survive in India up to the age of 15 years;
(ii) that the profession, trade and
occupation of millions of Muslims will be permanently and irreparably injured;
(iii) that millions of members of the
minority communities such as Christians, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and
Muslims, for whom cattle-beef is a staple item of their diet, will be deprived
of this diet;
(iv) that the menace of the rapidly
increasing uneconomic cattle population in such matters as the destruction of
crops, being a public nuisance, will be accentuated by this arbitrary age
limit, and in effect will ensure that bulls and bullocks cannot be slaughtered;
(v) that the menace of the rapidly increasing
population of uneconomic cattle to the fodder and other animal food resources
of the country will be accentuated.
(vi) that the competition between the rapidly
increasing cattle population, a large percentage I of which is uneconomic and
useless, add the human population for available land will be accentuated;
(vii) that this piece of legislation will
ensure the steady increase of useless bulls and bullocks and must react
disastrously against any attempt to improve milk production, bullock power or
animal husbandry generally." 616 Similar allegations have been made in the
other two petitions also.
The correctness of these allegations has been
con. tested on behalf of the respondent States, which through some of their
officers have filed affidavits in reply. We shall presently examine at greater
length the averments made in these affidavits, but we may indicate here in
broad outline what their general effect is. In Bihar the age below which the
slaughter of she-buffaloes, bulls and bullocks is prohibited is 25 years. The
respondent State has taken the plea that the usefulness or longevity of
live-stock for breeding and other purposes depends to a very great extent on
(a) better animal husbandry facilities like feeding and management and (b)
control of animal diseases, and as these facilities are now available in a
greater measure, the legislature came to the conclusion that a bull or bullock
or a she-buffalo below 25 years of age continues to remain useful; if a bull,
bullock or she buffalo is permanently incapacitated below that age the impugned
provision permits its slaughter and therefore the legislation which is
challenged conforms to the decision of this Court and does not violate any
fundamental right. In Uttar Pradesh the age is 20 years as respects bulls or
bullocks, with a further restriction to be referred to later. The reply of the
respondent State is that bulls or bullocks do not become unfit at the age of 12
or 14 years as alleged by the petitioners;
on the contrary, they continue to be useful
and at no time they become entirely useless. It is then stated in the
"As a matter of fact, the age up to
which the animals can live and are serviceable depends upon the care and
attention they receive and the quality of the grass on which they are
grazed.............................According to a high authority the average
age of an ox under favourable conditions would be between 15 to 20 years. Even
under conditions prevailing in Uttar Pradesh, bulls can live upto 20 years or
more as would appear from an analysis of a survey report of the animal
husbandry department." 617 On these averments the respondent State
contends that the legislation is valid. In Madhya Pradesh also the age is 20
years. The Under-Secretary to the( State Government in the Agricultural
Department' has made the reply affidavit in which it has been stated inter alia
that conditions in Madhya Pradesh are different from conditions in other
States. The affidavit then states:
"The State of Madhya Pradesh has a total
area of 107,589,000 acres, out of which total cropped area is 43,572,000 acres.
Forest area is 33,443,000 acres, area not available
for cultivation is 11,555,000 acres, uncultivated land is 18,405,000 acres and
fallow land is 5,834,000 acres. It will thus be seen that this State has a
large forest area and plenty of grass land for pasturage. As the forests supply
the greater part of the fuel needs of the human population, the dung of animals
is largely available as manure. The legislature considered that bulls, bullocks
and buffaloes are useful in this State till they are well past twenty years of
age and that they should not be slaughtered till they are past that age and are
also unfit for work or breeding. The problem of animals dying of slow
starvation or of worthless animals depriving useful animals of fodder needs no
consideration in this State. The agricultural community in the State benefits
by the existence of animals as long as they are useful." There are also
further averments as to the shortage of breeding bulls, working bullocks and
she-buffaloes in Madhya Pradesh. On these averments the contention of the
respondent State is that the cattle in that State are useful up to the age of
We have indicated above in general terms the
case of the petitioners and the reply which the respondent States have given.
We proceed now to a detailed consideration of the impugned legislation in each
(1) We take up first the Bihar Preservation
and Improvement of Animals (Amendment) Act, 1959 and the rules made under the
main Act of 1955. Section 3 of the Act as amended reads:
"S. 3. Prohibition of slaughter of cow,
calf, bull, bullock or she-buffalo;
618 Notwithstanding anything contained in any
law for the time' being in force or in any usage or custom to the contrary, no
person shall slaughter or cause to be slaughtered, or offer or cause to be
offered for slaughter a cow, calf, bull, bullock or she-buffalo:
Provided that the prescribed authority may,
subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, allow the slaughter of(i) a
bull or bullock which is over twenty five years of age or which has become
permanently incapable of breeding or of being used as a draught animal, as the
case may be, and (ii) a she-buffalo which is over twenty-five years of age or
which has become permanently incapable of breeding or yielding milk, if the
permanent incapability has not been caused deliberately;