Supreme Court to decide if you can keep and eat beef brought from outside Maharashtra
This amendment that banned sale, slaughter, consumption of the meat of bulls and bullocks in Maharashtra was among the first policy decisions taken by the Devendra Fadnavis-led governmentmumbai Updated: Aug 12, 2017 19:05 IST
The Supreme Court will hear the Maharashtra government’s appeal against a Bombay HC decision to allow residents to store and consume beef brought from outside the state.
The state government’s special leave petition challenges a high court decision that struck down two controversial provisions of the law that made it an offence to carry or keep beef at home in Maharashtra.
It struck down provision 5 D of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Animal Act, 1995 — it allowed police officials to search a person suspected of possessing meat of cow, bulls or bullock slaughtered outside Maharashtra and to enter homes to carry out these searches.
It also struck down another section, 9 B, which put the burden on the accused to prove he was innocent, instead of the prosecution.
This amendment that banned sale, slaughter and consumption of the meat of bulls and bullocks in Maharashtra was among the first policy decisions taken by the Devendra Fadnavis-led government after it won power in the state in 2014. The bill received presidential assent in March 2015, four months after the Fadnavis government came to power in Maharashtra.
The Maharashtra government’s plea says the high court’s order gives safe passage and cover to unscrupulous wrongdoers for transporting cattle outside Maharashtra to slaughter them and then, after slaughtering, bringing their flesh back to the state with impunity.
The government said the absence of section 9B would result in acquittals. The state also argued there were many other laws that imposed the burden of proof of innocence on the accused, such as the Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances Act, Essential Commodities Act, and the Foreign Exchange Management Act.
By striking down both sections, the high court’s order has disturbed the entire scheme of the act and posed extreme practical difficulty before the state in implementing the act resulting in irreparable loss to the agriculture and livestock, the Maharashtra government’s petition said.
The Maharashtra government has also sought a stay on the high court order until the matter is disposed of by the Apex Court.
The state government’s amendment was challenged in the Bombay high court, which on May 6 this year upheld the beef ban under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act. But, the order allowed people to store and consume beef that was brought from outside the state. The apex court is already hearing a petition of the beef dealers association that has challenged the beef ban in Maharashtra. The dealers want to be allowed to slaughter bulls and bullocks – but not cows – that are over 16 years of age, contending that these are too old to be used for farming or other activities.