The Rajasthan high court on Wednesday quashed a case against Pehlu Khan, who was lynched by cow vigilantes in April 2017, his two sons and a truck driver for allegedly illegally transporting cows for slaughter.
A single bench of Justice Pankaj Bhandari quashed the case under Rajasthan Bovine Animals Protection Act and and the charge sheet against the four, saying there is no evidence to show that the cows were being transported for the purpose of slaughtering.
The petition was filed by the truck driver, Khan Mohammed, and the two sons of Pehlu Khan.
It was contended by advocate Kapil Gupta, appearing for the accused, that the criminal case was a sheer misuse and abuse of the process of law since there was no evidence that the cows were being transported for illegal purposes.
Gupta contended that the report of medical experts established the fact they were milch cows and calves were only a month old.
There was also a receipt from the local animal selling market that the cows were in fact purchased for rearing them in dairy, the lawyer submitted.
In his reaction after the verdict, Pehlu Khan's son Irshad said, "We are very happy with the high court's direction today to quash the FIR and charge sheet against me and my brother. We were not taking the cows for the purpose of slaughtering but we were attacked. Today, justice was done."
Pehlu Khan (55), his two sons and a few others were transporting cows when they were allegedly stopped and thrashed by a mob near Behror in Alwar district on April 1, 2017.
Khan died in hospital on April 3, triggering outrage over the murder and focusing attention on attacks by cow vigilantes.
An Alwar court had acquitted all six accused on August 14 this year, giving them the benefit of doubt. However, the Rajasthan government has filed an appeal in the high court against the acquittal.
After the lower court verdict, the state government had constituted a special investigation team to identify errors and irregularities in the investigation and fix the responsibility for botching up the investigation on individual officers.
Khan and others were on their way to Nuh district in Haryana from Jaipur when the cow vigilantes stopped them in Behror on the Jaipur-Delhi national highway.