Two months after Bombay high court ruled that a blanket ban on storing and consuming beef violates the rights the Constitution of India gives citizens, and made it legal for people to consume beef brought from outside the state, the Maharashtra government said it is planning to challenge the ruling.
Sources said both the law and judiciary department of the state and Advocate General Rohit Deo had a positive opinion about challenging the court’s verdict. The decision is now up to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis .
“We had sought an opinion from the advocate general and the law and judiciary department about the court’s verdict. The A-G felt the state can challenge HC’s order, and last week, the law and judiciary department also came out with the same opinion,” said a senior officer, wishing not to be named. The state animal husbandry department was also of the view the government should take its appeal to the Supreme Court.
The CM told HT the decision is yet to be taken.
In March last year, the state banned the slaughter of bulls and bullocks, along with cows, by amending the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1976. However, in May this year, the HC upheld the ban but allowed people to store and consume beef brought from outside.
“The proposal (to ban beef) was moved to protect cow and its progeny. But with the court’s order, its purpose will be lost somewhere. It becomes necessary on our part to challenge it,” said another senior officer, requesting anonymity.
Meanwhile, beef dealers in the state are also preparing to appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court. Mohammad Ali Qureshi, the president of the Mumbai Suburban Beef Dealer Association, said they are waiting for the state government to go to appeal, after which they will intervene. “We don’t want to slaughter cows. We want permission to allow slaughtering of bulls and bullocks that are old and are not used for breeding or agriculture purposes. We will raise this demand before the Apex Court,” Qureshi said.
In its May ruling, the high court had held Section 5D of the Act, which prohibits the possession of meat of cows, bulls or bullocks slaughtered outside Maharashtra, infringes on the right to choice of food, and struck it down as unconstitutional. The court also struck down Section 9B, according to which people charged under the Act had to prove their innocence, calling it unfair and unreasonable. The burden of proof will now be on the prosecution
Sources said with all the opinions — A-G, law and judiciary and animal husbandry department, the proposal for challenging the verdict has now moved to the chief minister office for final approval.