The Bombay high court on Friday reserved verdict on a bunch of petitions, challenging the ban imposed by the state government on possession of beef, and thus, indirectly prohibiting the consumption.
A division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice SC Gupte concluded a hearing on the petitions challenging constitutional validity of the two provisions of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976, which were introduced by a 1995 amendment, but brought into force 20 years later, in March 2015.
The provisions are section 5 (d) that prohibits possession of beef imported from other states and section 9 (a) that penalises such possession with imprisonment of up to one year and fine of Rs2,000.
These provisions impose an indirect ban on beef eating as they prohibit and criminalise possession, thus imposing a ban on importing beef from other states or countries.
“There is no reason for the state to be worried as to whether there are enough cows, bulls and bullocks in Ireland or for that matter some other country or some other state in India,” senior advocate Aspi Chinoy, who represented one of the petitioners, had said.
He added that the indirect ban on importing beef was beyond the intent of the legislation. The state government contended that the amendment has not been enacted to harass beef eaters, but to prohibit slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks in the larger interest of the agrarian society.
“Let’s not look at the Act as something put in place to harass people,” advocate general Shrihari Aney said. Aney added that the ban on possession was merely incidental to the purpose of the enactment and the central purpose of the Act is to prohibit slaughter to fulfill the goal enshrined in Article 48A of the Constitution of India, which demands protection of cows and calves, and to
fulfill the duty of the state imposed by Article 51 (a) (g), which makes it a duty of every individual to have compassion towards living creatures.