Maharashtra government on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that religion has got nothing to do with its recent ban on slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks and consumption and possession of their meat.
Advocate General Sunil Manohar made this submission while opposing a bunch of petitions challenging the ban introduced under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act.
The petitions have challenged only Sections 5 (d) and 9 (a) of the Act, which prohibit possession and consumption of meat of cow, bulls and bullocks even if the animals have been slaughtered outside Maharashtra. According to the petitions, this puts a ban on import of meat.
The Advocate General raised the issue of religion when advocates appearing for a number of organisations, who filed intervening applications supporting the ban, argued that cow progeny is considered sacred in our nation.
"The state government's contention is not that the ban is introduced due to religion," Manohar said.
A division bench of justices V M Kanade and M S Sonak agreed to this and said, "According to state government, religion has got nothing to do with the ban. This contention has neither been argued by the petitioners nor the state. So you (intervenors) please do not expand your arguments to this issue."
The court also queried if it could, as part of judicial review, try to ascertain the real purpose behind the ban.
Advocate Subash Jha, appearing for one of the intervenors Vardhaman Parivar, argued that even in Mahabharat it has been said that cow progeny should be protected and preserved. Jha also gave the example of Mangal Pandey who refused to touch cow meat.
Advocate Rakesh Kumar, appearing for another intervenor, argued that earlier cow progeny was not considered as sacred but now it is (considered), looking at its utilities.
The high court will continue hearing the arguments on Thursday.