The Rajasthan high court on Wednesday recommended cow be declared the national animal of the country and also that punishment for cow slaughter be increased from ten years to life term under the Rajasthan Bovine Act 1995.

The single bench of Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma gave the judgement on a petition by Jago Janata Society, an NGO, alleging corruption and mismanagement of the Hingonia goshala near Jaipur. It was also his last judgement as he had retired on Wednesday.

The court said as per section 48 and 51-A (g) of the Constitution, the government must try to give the cow the status of a legal entity. He said cow protection is not only important in the religious perspective as cows are revered by the Hindus but the facts, the country’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture and dairy.

The court appointed state chief secretary and advocate general as ‘persons in loco parentis’ to achieve this end of giving it the status of national animal.

The court had given 19 recommendations which come in the backdrop of ranging protests in several parts of the country against the Centre’s new restrictions on sale and slaughter of cattle.

Many states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have refused to implement the Centre’s directive on the ground that it is infringing on states’ powers to frame their own laws on animal slaughter.

The Centre has used animal cruelty rules, which can be enforced nationally, to order that animal markets will only be able to trade cattle for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and dairy production.

The court suggestions comes at a time when increasing incidents of cow vigilantes’ attack on slaughterhouses and cattle traders have been reported in the state. In April, cow vigilantes attacked a 55-year-old cattle trader Pehlu Khan in Alwar and four others. Pehlu Khan died and his companions were injured.

Chief minister Vasundhara Raje on Tuesday warned that firm action will be taken against those behind violent crimes, including cow vigilantes. “The law of the land prevails in Rajasthan, and the government will ensure the culprits are brought to book,” she said.

Additional advocate general GS Gill, who appeared for the government, said we will examine the order whether the order of the court is in conformity with the present legal frame work or just the wish of the court.