The Bombay High Court on Friday allowed conscious possession of slaughtered beef and also decriminalised it.
A division Bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice S. C. Gupte upheld the constitutional validity of The Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1976.
The court said that section 5D that prohibits possession of the flesh of cow, bull or bullock slaughtered outside the state of Maharashtra infringes privacy therefore it has been struck down.
The court was hearing a bunch of petitions which challenge section 5A of the Act that prohibits transport or export of cows, bulls or bullocks for the purposes of slaughter, section 5B that prohibits sale, purchase, distribution in any other manner of cows, bulls and bullocks, section 5C prohibits possession of the flesh of cows, bulls or bullocks, section 9 of the said Act that empowers the police authorities to search and seize cattle suspected to be taken for slaughter.
The court upheld offences under the Act related to the sale or transport of bulls, bullock for slaughter which are punishable with a jail term of up to five years and a fine of Rs. 10,000 and the possession of meat of a cow, bull or bullock, is punishable with one-year of imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 2,000.
Earlier on, former advocate general Shreehari Aney had justified the ban in the state by saying, Right to Eat is part of a fundamental right under Article 21 (Right to Life) Indian Constitution but Right to Eat a particular food is not covered under it.
These petitions were first being heard by a division bench headed by Justice V. M. Kanade. After it came up before Justice Oka the court had reserved the order in mid January 2016.
The Bombay High Court has struck down two of the most controversial amendments to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act of 1976.
Justices AS Oka and SC Gupte read out the operative parts of their judgment today before a packed courtroom number 13 of the Bombay High Court. The provisions (Sections 5D and 9B), have been struck down as Constitutionally invalid.
Section 5D of the Act reads,
“No person shall have in his possession flesh of any cow, bull, or bullock slaughtered outside the State of Maharashtra”
Section 9B of the Act reads,
“In any trial for an offence punishable under 9 or 9A for contravention of the provisions of this Act, the burden of proving that the slaughter, transport, export outside the State, sale, purchase or possession of flesh of cow, bull or bullock was not in contravention of of the provisions of this Act, shall now be on the accused.”
Justice Oka said that the impugned provisions were in violation of the right to privacy, a right which is part of personal liberty. The other provision, namely S.9B, was held to be violative of Article 21.
Amongst the senior counsel present in court today were Harish Jagtiani and Aspi Chinoy.