Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

SC issues notice to Maharashtra govt on plea challenging possession of beef

A petition challenged a Bombay HC judgement decriminalizing possession of beef in Maharashtra while permitting consumption of it brought from neighbouring states

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Maharashtra government over a petition seeking ban on possession of beef brought into Maharashtra from other states.

A bench comprising justices A. K. Sikri and D. Y. Chandrachud was acting on a petition brought by Akhil Bharat Krishi Goseva Sangh, challenging a Bombay high court judgement decriminalizing possession of beef in Maharashtra while permitting consumption of them brought from neighbouring states.

On 6 May, a division bench of justices A.S. Oka and S.C. Gupte of the Bombay high court struck down sections 5(d) and 9(b) of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act which criminalized possession of beef, saying they infringed upon a person’s right to privacy.

“As far as the choice of eating food of the citizens is concerned, the citizens are required to be left alone especially when the food of their choice is not injurious to health," the judgment said.

The state cannot control what a citizen does in his house, provided he is not doing something which is contrary to law. It cannot make an intrusion into his home and prevent a citizen from possessing and eating food of his choice, it added.

In March 2015, the BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra, had banned cow slaughter and also included a ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks. It also criminalized possession of beef, notwithstanding where it came from.

In April 2015, HC directed the state government not to take coercive action against those found in possession of beef for three months but refused to strike down the relevant sections of the Act which criminalized possession of beef.

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