Tahlka News Bureau
New Delhi: The Rajasthan High Court's verdict directing the Centre to make the cow as India's national animal is bound to raise several questions, particularly the tendency of some judges to get drawn into political controversies. A 139-page verdict- typed in Hindi has been pushed to give the cow the legal status of a person and directing the state and its advocate general to be "persons in loco parenties" for the animals preservation. The Latin phrase is a legal doctrine under which an individual assumes parental rights, duties and obligations without going through the legal formalities of adaptation. Also, the judge has recommended enhancement of punishment of cow slaughter from the present seven year to "life imprisonment".
The judgement comes at a time when many states are protesting the Centres decision to ban the slaughter of all cattle - cows and buffaloes- brought in agricultural markets. It is likely to encourage the vigilante groups, who in the name of cow protection carries out violent attacks on minorities suspected of cow slaughtering.
The judgement could provide an opportunity to critics to question the quality of judges and the appointment system. The verdict comes close to the heels of controversy involving sitting Calcutta High Court judge, Justice CS Karnan, who is facing arrest orders for his intemperate language used against judges of the supreme court and his colleagues.
However, personal choices of judges ought not to have any role to play in their verdicts. The basic norm that judges should speak through their judgments and not outside has been violated here. In an interview, Justice Mahesh Sharma gave a peculiar reason for his order. He said his suggestion was only because "it was a voice from my soil."
It also tells that the judge should have restrained hiself from enlarging the scope of the petition before him and going into issues that could have had political overtones. Whether an animal should be declared national or not is the executive's right. Justice Sharma should have detached himself to the allegations made in the petition filed by the NGO Jago Janta Society seeking directions to save cows kept in Jaipur's Hingonia gaushala and other cow sheds, given the sensitivity attached to the issue.
Moreover, the judgment could harm the image of the judiciary, which should not be seen as endorsing a religion since it is meant to protect every citizen's fundamental rights.