The Rajasthan High Court today recommended life imprisonment for cow slaughter while also calling to make the bovine, considered holy by many Hindus, as India's national animal.
The state High Court was hearing the Hingonia Gaushala case, in which over 8000 cows had died between January 1 and July 31 last year due to ill health and accidental injuries in what is considered one of "Asia's best" cow shelters.
"Keeping in mind Articles 48 and 51A(g) of the Constitution and to provide legal entity for their proper protection and conservation of cow, it is expected from the government that cow is declared a national animal," Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma said in a 145-page order.
The judge appointed the Chief Secretary and the Advocate General of Rajasthan in loco parentis (custodians) for the protection and conservation of cows.
These officials will work for the protection and conservation of cows and to declare cow a national animal, the ruling said.
The court's recommendation to the central government comes amid a massive outrage across the country over a controversial notification issued by the Centre on the sale and slaughter of cattle.
The Environment Ministry last week notified the stringent Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, banning the sale and purchase of cattle at animal markets for the purpose of slaughter.
The Centre's rules defined cattle as a bovine animal, including bulls, bullocks, cows, buffaloes, steers, heifers and calves and camels.
The decision drew flak from various Opposition parties as well as organisations who claimed it would hit the export and trade of meat and leather.
Following protests by various states and business community, the government on Tuesday said it could reconsider the notification regulating the sale of cattle and may exclude buffaloes from it.
The Madras High Court on Tuesday stayed the central order and issued notice to both the Union Government and the state government seeking their reply.