Beef ban: Maharashtra government may approach Supreme Court against Bombay High Court’s verdict

By: |
Mumbai | Published: May 6, 2016 6:19:25 PM

The Bombay High Court upheld the ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks in BJP-ruled Maharashtra while making it clear that mere possession of beef of animals slaughtered outside the state cannot invite criminal action.

Beef banThe High Court struck down two sections of the state Act which criminalised possession of beef. (Reuters Photo)

In the beef ban case, the Maharashtra government, if required, will approach the Supreme Court against the Bombay High Court’s decision of striking down of “unconstitutional sections” of Maharashtra Animals Preservation (Amendment) Act, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Friday.

The Bombay High Court upheld the ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks in BJP-ruled Maharashtra while making it clear that mere possession of beef of animals slaughtered outside the state cannot invite criminal action.

The High Court struck down two sections of the state Act which criminalised possession of beef. Striking down sections 5(d)and 9(b) of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act which criminalised and imposed punishment for possession of beef of animals slaughtered in the state or outside, Justices A S Oka and S C Gupte held that the state cannot control what a citizen does in his house which is his own castle, provided he is not doing something contrary to law.

Under the Act of 1976, there was ban on cow slaughter and possession and consumption of their meat. However, in 2015, the ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks was also included in the Act by an amendment.

“The HC has affirmed that our law is constitutional and it has not targeted any religion, caste or creed. I am happy that our stand is vindicated by the court,” Fadnavis said.

“However, there are two provisions of the law that have been struck down by the high court. We will consult our lawyers and if necessary, will approach the Supreme Court against this. Other than these two provisions, the court has found no fault with the law,” he added.

The court modified section 5(c) of the Act, which makes possession of beef of animal slaughtered in the state an offence, and said only “conscious possession” of such meat will be held as an offence.

“As far as the choice of eating food of the citizens is concerned, the citizens are required to be let alone especially when the food of their choice is not injurious to health,” the court said.

“The state cannot make an intrusion into his home and prevent a citizen from possessing and eating food of his choice. A citizen has a right to lead a meaningful life within the four corners of his house as well as outside his house. This intrusion on the personal life of an individual is prohibited by the right to privacy which is part of the personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21,” the court said.

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