The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court in a recent judgement held that possession of skin of a dead animal would not amount to an offence under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976, which prohibits slaughtering, importing, exporting and possessing beef, Live Law reported on Tuesday.

A bench of Justices VM Deshpande and Anil S Kilor ruled that even if a circular, notification or order is issued by the state government prohibiting such possession, it will not prevail over the existing provisions, and will be in contravention with the statute.

The court passed the judgement on December 14, while hearing a plea filed by a van driver identified as Shafiqullaha Kha. He sought to quash a first information report, where he was charged under various sections of the anti-cow slaughter law, according to The Indian Express.

The July 2018 FIR was based on a complaint lodged against Kha by the president of the local Bajrang Dal unit at Shivaji Nagar police station of Maharashtra’s Khamgaon city. The police said that they verified the complaint and it was found that the vehicle was carrying 187 skins of cow species and the same was confirmed by the animal husbandry department, The Indian Express reported.

Appearing for Kha, Advocate AV Bhide, said that the necessary documents for carrying the skins, including Udyog Aadhar Memorandum, a license under the Maharashtra Shops and Establishment Act, and a bill prepared for selling of raw hide was provided by the petitioner and thus he was not in violation of the anti-cow slaughter law.

The court quashed the FIR, observing that carrying of skin of dead animals was not prohibited under the law and that the petitioner was not transporting or exporting cow, bull or bullock for purpose of slaughter.