Beef ban does not violate choice of food of people: Maharashtra to HC | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Beef ban does not violate choice of food of people: Maharashtra to HC

mumbai Updated: Apr 20, 2015 19:58 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra beef ban

India-earns-4-3-billion-a-year-from-beef-exports-Arvind-Yadav-HT-FIle

Imposing a ban on possession of meat of cow progeny does not violate or stultify the choice of food of individuals, the Maharashtra government has claimed in an affidavit filed in Bombay high court in response to petitions challenging ban on and criminalisation of possession of bovine meat.

The affidavit filed by Chitrakala Suryavanshi, deputy secretary, agriculture and animal husbandry department, further claimed that what the ban seeks to do is impose a reasonable restriction, as all other kinds of meat, including that of buffalo, are permitted in the state.

The right to choice of food guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India is not an absolute right, but is subject to valid laws, and the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill 1995, which imposes a complete ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks apart from that of cows, is one such valid law which imposes reasonable restriction, the affidavit states.

The affidavit is filed in response to two petitions challenging the 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 challenged the constitutional validity of section 5(d) of the 1995 amendment, which prohibits possession of beef imported from other states and Section 9(a), which penalises such possession by providing imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of Rs2,000.

They have 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.

In reply to the petitions, the affidavit filed by Suryavanshi states that the amended law imposes ban only on trade and commerce of meat of cow progeny in Maharashtra, and all other kinds of meat are permitted. Besides, it also highlights the importance and use of cow milk and dung and urine of cow progeny for the agrarian economy.

In any case, the Supreme Court has already upheld total ban on slaughter of cow progeny 10 years ago in the State of Gujrat v/s Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kasaab Jamat case, the affidavit says, adding that section 5(d) only gives effect to the constitutional goal contained in Article 48, which deals with organisation of agriculture and animal husbandry.

The ban
On March 3 this year, a 19-year-old state bill extending the ban on slaughter of cows and sale or possession of its meat to bulls, received the nod of President Pranab Mukherjee. The ban was enforced from March 4, and, as a mark of protest, butchers did not slaughter even the legally allowed buffaloes for a month, leading to a shortage of meat in the market. The strike was called off on March 31.

The allegations levelled in the two petitions:
* The two petitions challenge the validity of two provisions in the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill 1995, to which presidential assent was granted in February 2015

* The petitioners – Haresh Jagtiani and Goregaon resident Arif Usman Kapadia – challenged the constitutional validity of section 5(d) of the 1995 amendment, which prohibits possession of beef imported from other states and Section 9(a), which penalises such possession by providing imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of Rs 2,000

* They have 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.

What the state government says in its response:
* The affidavit filed by Chitrakala Suryavanshi, deputy secretary, agriculture and animal husbandry department, states that the amended law imposes ban only on trade and commerce of meat of cow progeny in Maharashtra, and all other kinds of meat are permitted.

* It also highlights the importance and use of cow milk and dung and urine of cow progeny for the agrarian economy

* It says that section 5(d) only gives effect to the constitutional goal contained in Article 48, which deals with organisation of agriculture and animal husbandry.

Survey in progress:
* A state-wide survey is now underway to find out the effect of the recent ban on the slaughter of bulls and sale or possession of its meat, on those associated with the trade.

* Commissioned by an association of beef traders in Mumbai, the survey will detail the impact in terms of the number of people affected directly or indirectly and the drastic change in livelihood, among other things.

* According to what union heads have told the media so far, around 50,000 people in state are directly involved with bull meat trade including farmers, brokers, butchers and sellers, 1 lakh are involved indirectly in waste management and transportation, and 1.5 lakh in allied activities such as leather trade and manufacturing of tools used for slaughter

* According to trade unions, the overall beef market is worth Rs10,000 crore

Impact of the ban:
* 4,100: Number of animals slaughtered daily at the 64-acre Deonar abattoir, the city’s only legal slaughterhouse. Of these, 450 were cattle. 80 to 100 of the 450 cattle slaughtered at Deonar daily were buffaloes. This will now be the only beef produced here

* 850: Workers at the Deonar abattoir who were involved in the slaughter of non-buffalo cattle and now stand to be left unemployed. Most of these were daily wage earners, with no contracts, severance pay or pensions

* 900: Number of standalone licensed beef-sellers in Mumbai

* 194: Number of legal slaughterhouses affected across the state

(Sources: Bombay Suburban Beef Dealers Welfare Association; Pathan KA, deputy general manager of the Deonar abbatoir)