Slaughtering a cow in the secrecy of one’s home is not a matter involving public order, the Allahabad High Court held in a recent judgement, Live Law reported on Thursday. The court made the observation while quashing the detention of three men under the National Security Act in an alleged cow slaughter case in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur district.

The three men were arrested in July 2020, after the Sitapur Police raided their house while they were cutting beef with the purpose of selling the meat.

Two of the men – Parvez and Irfan – were arrested on the spot, while three others – Rahmatullah, Karim and Rafi – fled. They were later arrested and charged with sections of the UP Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act and Criminal Law Amendment Act.

The superintendent of police and station house officer of Sitapur then submitted to the district magistrate that the release of the accused on bail might cause disruption of public order. They sought the detention of Irfan, Parvez and Rahamatullah under the National Security Act, which was granted by the district court on August 14, 2020.

While seeking detention under NSA, the state of Uttar Pradesh had submitted that the incident had disturbed communal amity in the area as people from the Hindu community had gathered near the house of the accused.

“...An atmosphere of fear and terror was generated, public order was disturbed and the crowd became belligerent,” the public prosecutor submitted.

The accused then filed a petition seeking to quash the detention under NSA. Their counsel argued that since the accused were in the custody of the police authorities, “there was no need to direct their preventive detention merely on the basis of a solitary incident of cutting beef…in the secrecy of their home”, The Indian Express reported.

The Allahabad High Court bench of Justices Ramesh Sinha and Saroj Yadav observed that the question of disrupting public order depends on whether the alleged act was performed in public in an aggressive manner. In this case, the court noted that the accused were slaughtering the cow at 5.30 am inside their home.

“We also do not know whether the cause was poverty, lack of employment or hunger, which may have compelled the petitioners and the other co-accused to take such a step,” the court said.