Eating a particular kind of food, for example beef, is not a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of India, the state argued before the Bombay high court (HC) on Wednesday, while trying to justify the complete ban imposed on beef.
“Although the right to privacy or right to be left alone is not explicitly recognised by the Constitution of India, it has been read into the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21,” said advocate general Shrihari Aney. “But the right to eat a particular food, say beef, is not part of right to privacy,” he added. “You can have right to eat as part of your right to life, but not the right to eat a particular food,” Aney said.
The contention, however, did not go well with the division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice SC Gupte. “Then we take it that the state can [has the power to] furnish a list to citizens saying you cannot eat A, B, C, D and E from tomorrow onwards,” the judges said. “No,” Aney replied promptly, adding the state can impose reasonable restrictions on certain items of food on grounds of compelling public interest.
The advocate general said the provisions introduced 20 years ago also intend to prohibit eating flesh of cows, bulls and bullocks.