Justice (Rtd) Markandey Katju
There has been an uproar over the alleged serving of beef in the Kerala Guest House in Delhi, and the entry of the Delhi Police and Hindu Sena activists inside the Guest House.
I will here only discuss the legal issues about this, and not go into the political aspect.
Section 11 (1) of the Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act, 1994 (hereinafter referred to as the DACP Act) states: “For the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this Act the Competent Authority or the Veterinary Officer in writing in this behalf, shall have power to enter and inspect any premises.”
‘Competent Authority’ has been defined by Section 2(b) of the Act to mean the Director, Animal Husbandry, Government of Delhi.
Veterinary Officer has been defined in Section 3 to mean the person appointed by the Competent Authority.
Thus only the Competent Authority or the Veterinary Officer could have validly entered the Kerala Guest House to investigate whether an offence under the Act had been committed. The police had no power to do so.
It may be noted that the DACP Act is a special law, and its provisions will hence prevail over the general law, i.e. the Criminal Procedure Code, as it is well settled in law that the special overrides the general.
Under the Cr.P.C. a policeman can validly enter a premises to investigate a crime under the India Penal Code like murder, dacoity, rape or robbery. But he cannot do so if the crime alleged is under the DACP Act.
Here section 11 permits only the two authorities mentioned in Section 11 to enter the premises. As regards Section 11(5) of the Act which makes section 100 Cr.P.C. applicable, it may be noted that section 100 only lays down the method of investigation, not the person entitled to investigate.
It follows from the above discussion that the entry of the Delhi police into the Kerala Guest House was totally illegal.
It may also be mentioned that the activists of the Hindu Sena had no legal right to barge into the Guest House and create a ruckus there. Legally one cannot enter into anyone’s premises without the permission of the owner or occupant. In fact such an act is criminal tresspass under section 441 I.P.C.
(Reproduced from former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju’s blog, Satyam Bruyat)