The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear on October 5 Jammu and Kashmir government’s plea against “conflicting orders” issued by two benches of the state high court on beef ban in the state.
Acting on a PIL, the high court’s Jammu bench on September 8 asked the police to strictly enforce the ban on selling beef as laid out in the Ranbir Penal Code. A week later, the Srinagar bench issued a notice to the state government on another PIL seeking to strike down the constitutional provisions criminalising bovine slaughter in the border state.
Pointing out inconsistencies in the orders issued by the two benches of the HC, senior advocate Amarendra Sharan sought urgent hearing of the state’s petition before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India HL Dattu, which posted it to Monday.
The PDP-BJP government led by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was forced to seek the top court’s intervention so that “communal harmony is not disrupted” by inconsistent judicial pronouncements.
Jammu and Kashmir, which enjoys a special status, has a separate constitution and criminal code -- the Ranbir Penal Code.
Stumped by conflicting orders, the state government has requested the SC to “ensure that there is uniformity and consistency in the judicial pronouncements and there is no scope to exploit the present situation by disrupting communal harmony, amity and peace in the state.”
The government has also asked the court to decide the matter itself or set up an HC bench to settle the contentious orders, which, it said, had grave ramifications for the law and order situation in the state. The orders were being misused and interpreted to disrupt the peaceful fabric of the state, it said.
There was a realistic possibility of the HC delivering two judgments, mutually contradictory, since two separate benches, were seized of the respective petitions, the state government contended.
The Jammu bench issued its directive on the first date of the hearing and didn’t even wait for its response before dictating the order, the government said.
The Srinagar bench on September 16 said the pending petition should not prevent the government or the assembly from scrapping the provision or amending the RPC.
The beef ban triggered widespread anger, with Kashmir-based separatists calling a shut down and protests. Fearing trouble on Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), the government shut down internet for three days. Services resumed on Monday.