Inspiration Bovine? Why Should Courts Promote Cow-piss Business?

The Allahabad High Court has decided to give a push to promoting the sale of cow urine in Uttar Pradesh.

Published
India
3 min read
Uma Bharti, who first promoted the cow-urine business. (Photo : Reuters) 

A decade or so ago, Uma Bharti’s Madhya Pradesh government decided to usher in a “cultural renaissance” by aggressively promoting the sale of cow urine. The public relations department gloated about the nobility of the mission it was undertaking. But the sadhvi got voted out of power, and her task remained incomplete.

Now the Allahabad High Court has taken upon itself the task of reviving that grand idea, having it implemented in Uttar Pradesh. In a 4 December order, the court has directed the state government to take all efforts to make cow urine and cow dung “profitable”. Reason: it has great medicinal value.

The court issued a slew of decisions while hearing a batch of bail applications of people being prosecuted under UP’s cow slaughter law. The bench’s actions appear bewildering because it is not the judiciary’s duty to act as the government’s business advisor, that too for something such as cow urine and cow dung. Moreover, after recovering from the initial shock, one realises that the ruling is akin to a gross judicial error in the politico-social conditions prevailing at present.

Misplaced Sympathy for Cows, Fanning Communal Fires

BJP MP Yogi Adityanath who demanded death penalty for cow slaughter. (Photo altered by <b>The Quint</b>)
BJP MP Yogi Adityanath who demanded death penalty for cow slaughter. (Photo altered by The Quint)

Under the UP law, all types of cow slaughter, and transportation of cow meat, are criminal offences carrying a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment. The law applies even to those cattle which have no productivity any more, even to the non milch category.

Previously, Section 4 of the law provided for an exception – allowing cows suffering from any contagious/infectious disease or subjected to experimentation in the interest of medical and public health research. But in September 2012, the Mayawati government in power at the time, did away with it, making the law even more stringent.

That cow slaughter is both a communal and communalised issue requires neither restatement, nor explanation. As recently as September this year, it came to the fore that in Uttar Pradesh, the situation had become even more precarious. Then of course there are people from various factions who stoke the fires further. For example BJP MP Yogi Adityanath demanding death penalty for cow slaughter. Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister, has also demanded a complete ban.

Therefore, what was the urgent and compelling reason for the court to wade into this tinderbox of a controversy? Justice Sudhir Saxena is silent on this point, but goes on to wax eloquent about indispensability of cows to the Indian economy, and why their lot must be protected.

He also stated that an absolute prohibition on cow slaughter would be immensely beneficial to small and marginal farmers, seemingly oblivious to data which proves the opposite is true. Not only that, it harms cows’ interests as well.

The Supreme Court was the first to eulogise the virtues of cow urine, and go so far as to hold that cow slaughter bans are essential to maintain communal harmony, even if it detrimentally affects Muslims.

But the high court’s action is an even more galling example of judicial discretion going off the rails.

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