Justice Shekhar Kumar Yadav observed in his twelve-page judgement that cows should be considered to have fundamental rights entrusted to them by rejecting bail of a man, known by Javed, belonging to the Sambhal district of Uttar Pradesh, India. The judge is said to have made clear that cows are of extreme importance not to just Hindus but all the other religions, especially to those people who are financially dependent on them. Thereby upholding them to the honourable status of the national animal of the country. The judge went as far as to say that the right of beef-eaters cannot override the right of worship where a section of the society is cow-worshippers, slaughtering them should meet with severe consequences. In his words, he stated, “Cow protection and promotion are not about any one religion but the cow is the culture of India and the work of saving the culture is of every citizen living in the country irrespective of religion or worship[1]”. One of the questions that arise from such a statement is who made cow the culture? Why not peacock is considered as culture or pigeon or even eagle?

It is needless to say that the culture to worship cows primarily stems from Hindu society. Some other cultures may share the belief or understand it and even respecting it does not mean they have adapted the same. An individual can accept others’ thoughts and opinions without having to change their beliefs for that is the essence of secularism. To tolerate what one doesn’t necessarily believe in but they understand the significance of it for their fellow citizens. Mistaking this understanding as an acceptance would be foolish. Since Hindus are more in majority in the country, this kind of imposition can soon give rise to breakouts. It is in the nature of the minority to look for instances of oppression and such a kind of statement from the justice does not help the situation.

Though there is no uniform legislation to prevent cow slaughter, various states have come up with their own version of the former with a varied range of penalties. In 2020, the revised bill for cow slaughter brought before the parliament was an improvised version of a law passed by the ruling party back in 2010. Having state laws serve a better purpose because the Hindu population varies from state to state. Centralised law for cow slaughter will render all the other cultures and religions helpless for no attempt would be made to analyse whether their culture supports cow meat or not. As of today, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Manipur, Kerala, Goa, Daman and Diu, West Bengal and Tripura are most of the places where they do not have a law preventing cow slaughter. The main reason lies with the inhabitants of these places who are primarily tribal thus, consuming beef is not per se prohibited but a part of the culture that they have been brought up in. surprisingly enough many of these places have a Hindu majority, still, the people have lived along with others who consume beef without letting it divide them.
In the same judgement, he has also been found to state, “India is the only country in the world where people of different religions live, who may worship differently, but their thinking is the same for the country and they respect each other’s religions. They respect the customs and food habits. In such a situation, when everyone takes a step forward to unite India and support its faith, then some people who have no faith in the interest of the country, commit such acts to weaken it[2]”.

With all due respect, India has attained the honour to call itself a secular state not because it bars a person to eat a certain kind of meat but to be tolerant towards those who consume it even though they may not believe the same. If the statement has to be further analysed it might as well be construed that tolerance only arises for other cultures when Hindus are worshipping cows but the very idea of Hindus tolerating beef consumers seem to invoke penalty? Secularism is a two-way street, one party cannot be expected to keep tolerating when there is no reciprocation from the other end. Even though consuming beef is not compulsory in certain religions it still reflects the liberty or freedom one can exercise with their choices of food habits. Such liberty or freedom will be wrongfully curtailed in the disguise of secularism shown as one dimensional.

Furthermore, the court went on to observe that the status of the national animals should be given to the cows of the country. This observation is not only biased but discriminatory. There are numerous endangered species that are in dire need of protection and declaring them as national animals would provide strong protection for such species. The reasoning for protection is that they are endangered but when it is compared to the reasoning of worshipping an animal as a part of one culture in a country of numerous cultures, it not only sounds bizarre but overthrows the essence of our basic structure. Subsequently, the judgment talked about providing fundamental rights to cows as well. Again, a simple question arises as to why cows? Why not bulls or crows or even monkeys? Monkeys are also worshipped by a large section of the Hindus for its resemblance to the Hindu god Hanuman.

The hype for cows is more because monkeys are not usually hunted for consumption. Thus, anything that is worshipped by the majority in the country would soon be nationalised in some way or the other and would be imposed as a part of Indian culture irrespective of what other Indians have to say about it. The court further justifies its claims by bringing forth ancient Mughal rulers who despite belonging to Islam understood the importance of cows in the Indian culture. Would it be so wrong to say that such great rulers were merely overwhelmed by witnessing the importance our culture gave to the cows and thereby, facilitated laws to make sure no hell broke loose? At the end of the day, they were rulers and wanted nothing more than harmony where they reigned. Nevertheless, to declare something national must reflect every feature of the country therefore a hasty decision to defend one religion may start an age-long enmity with the other.

[1] Rajesh Kumar Pandey, ‘Cow should be made national animal, its protection Hindu’s fundamental right: Allahabad high court,’ TIMES OF INDIA, Sep 1st, 2021, < https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/allahabad/cow-should-be-made-national-animal-its-protection-hindus-fundamental-right-allahabad-high-court/articleshow/85839829.cms>

[2] Supra 1