Amid rising instances of vigilantism by cow protectors, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition that wants possession of and consumption of beef in Maharashtra to be declared a criminal offence.
A bench headed by Justice AK Sikri asked the state to respond to a petition filed by All India Gau Sewa Sangh challenging Bombay high court’s May 6 ruling de-criminalising possession and consumption of beef, if the animal had been slaughtered outside Maharashtra.
The HC, however, upheld the ban on slaughter within the state.
The petition, filed through advocate Manish Singhvi, said the HC has erred in concluding that mere possession cannot be illegal. “It is difficult to distinguish between what is imported and what is not,” Singhvi told HT.
In its appeal before SC, the NGO has assailed the HC finding that “right to eat” is a fundamental right because its part of right to privacy. The petitioner said right to privacy is subject to reasonable restriction and since a citizen has also has a duty under Article 51-D (directive principles) which mandates cow protection, revered by millions in the country.
“Even if it is assumed there is right to privacy, there is no fundamental “right to eat” enumerated in the Constitution.”
“Thus a person has a right to eat, but it cannot be stated that a person has a fundamental right to eat a particular food, which is otherwise prohibited in law,” read the appeal.
Also, the question whether right to privacy is part of fundamental right is pending before a larger bench of SC for adjudication, the petitioner said.
“The right to eat even non vegan food is not prohibited only possession of meat of cow and its progeny is inhibited. Thus the choice is limited to a particular species and it cannot be termed as unreasonable restriction”, the NGO stated.