Amid the rising protest in South India over the beef ban, the Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday recommended that the country should declare cow as the national animal. The court also said that the punishment for cow slaughter should be life imprisonment.

The state High Court bench headed by Mahesh Chandra Sharma was hearing the infamous Hingonia Gaushala case. The Gaushala, which is considered one of "Asia's best" cow shelters had witnessed over 8000 cow dieds between January 1 and July 31 last year due to ill health and accidental injuries.

"Keeping in mind Articles 48 and 51A(g) of the Constitution and to provide legal entity for their proper protection and conservation of cow, it is expected from the government that cow is declared a national animal," Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma said in a 145-page order, reported India Today.

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The court later also appointed the Chief Secretary and the Advocate General of Rajasthan in loco parentis (custodians) for the protection and conservation of cows to work for the protection and conservation of cows and to declare cow a national animal.

The court's suggestion to the central government had come at a time when there is a massive outrage across the country over a controversial notification issued by the Centre on the sale and slaughter of cattle.

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The Environment Ministry last week notified the stringent Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, banning the sale and purchase of cattle at animal markets for the purpose of slaughter.

The Centre's rules defined cattle as a bovine animal, including bulls, bullocks, cows, buffaloes, steers, heifers and calves and camels.