It will be impossible to properly and effectively implement the ban on the slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks, unless possession of bovine meat is banned, the Maharashtra government said before the Bombay high court on Tuesday.
“The law does not intend to ban possession or eating of meat of cow progeny,” advocate general Sunil Manohar argued before the division bench of justice VM Kanade and justice MS Sonak. “It is a ban on trade and commerce in cow progeny for the purpose of slaughtering,” Manohar said, adding, “The ban on possession and eating is merely incidental.”
Section 5(d) (added by the 1995 amendment and which prohibits possession of beef) is also for the purpose of effective implementation of the enactment, the advocate general said. He added that if import of beef from other states or foreign countries is allowed in Maharashtra, it will be impossible to implement the ban on slaughter of cow progeny properly and effectively.
Besides, people may just take animals across the border to another state where slaughtering is permitted and bring back meat under the guise of import, paving the way for indirect slaughter of cow progeny from the state.
Manohar said the ban on eating meat of cow progeny in Maharashtra is an incidental effect of banning possession. But if possession is not banned, the legislation will remain “only on paper” and would frustrate the very purpose of the enactment.
He was responding to two petitions challenging validity of two provisions introduced by the 1995 Amendment, to which presidential assent was granted in February 2015.
The petitioners — Haresh Jagtiani and Goregaon resident Arif Usman Kapadia — have the challenged constitutional validity of Section 5(d) which prohibits possession of beef imported from other states, and section 9(a) which penalises such possession by providing for imprisonment of up to one year and fine of Rs 2,000.
They have also contended that section 5(d) of the Amendment Act had no rational nexus with the intent of the legislation — to protect cow progeny in the interest of Maharashtra’s agrarian economy, and is also violative of the choice of food of individuals, which has been recognised by the Supreme Court as part of right to privacy guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.