Beef ban just the beginning, Maharashtra government tells Bombay high court
Mumbai / Nagpur.
The Maharashtra government on Monday told the Bombay high court that the beef ban law may just be the beginning, and indicated that the ban on the slaughter of other animals may follow.
The statement was made by Maharashtra advocate general Sunil Manohar, who justified the new state law claiming it was done as per the constitutional principles and to ensure prevention of cruelty to animals.
A division bench of Justice VM Kanade and Justice AR Joshi then inquired why the state had only then banned the slaughter of bulls and bullocks.
“We have started with cows and its progeny. A beginning has been made. The state might consider others too,” said the advocate general.
“That may lead to migration from the state. Don’t consider a ban on fishes though,” the judges, observed in jest. The court also asked the state to consider issuing licenses, like in the case of liquour, for the possession of beef or beef products. The state asked the HC to let the law evolve and it may consider requirements in the future.
The HC has asked the state to file an affidavit explaining its stand, especially Section 5D of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act. The provision 5D makes it a crime to possess the flesh of bulls, bullocks and cows, even if they have been slaughtered outside Maharashtra.
The advocate general defended the law against attacks from the petitioners who had claimed that it violated the right to eat, under the fundamental right to life. He said that the law had been enacted to protect cow and its progeny as well as prevent cruelty to animals. “The ban on possession of beef for consumption or any other purposes is only incidental,” said the advocate general.
The President in February 2015 had sanctioned changes to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act. While the old law notified in 1976 banned the slaughter of cows, the new changes banned slaughter of bulls and bullocks as well. The sale of bulls, bullocks for slaughter has been made a crime, which is pun siahle with a jail term of up to five years and a fine of Rs 10,000.
The possession of meant of a cow, bull or bullock is also an offence which can be punished with one year imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,000.