The beef ban in Jammu and Kashmir has pitted two benches of the high court against each other, forcing the government to seek the intervention of the Supreme Court so that “communal harmony is not disrupted” by inconsistent judicial pronouncements.
Acting on a public interest litigation, 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 a PIL seeking to strike down the constitutional provisions criminalising bovine slaughter in the border state.
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 court is likely to take up the plea on Wednesday.
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 is a realistic possibility of the HC delivering two judgments, mutually contradictory, since two separate benches, are in seisin (seized) of the respective petitions,” the petition said.
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.