Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party government on Monday defended a law criminalising possession and consumption of beef in the national capital, saying the state was obligated under the Constitution to protect cows and other milch and draught animals from slaughter, reported PTI.
The Department of Animal Husbandry of the Delhi government made the submission on an affidavit filed before a bench of Acting Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, Gita Mittal, and Justice C Hari Shankar. The bench has now listed the matter for further hearing on 16 May.
The department has said that “the Article 48 of the Constitution casts an obligation on the state to take steps to preserve, improve and prohibit slaughter of cows, calves and other milch animals and draught cattle.”
It added, “Therefore, the provisions of the Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act criminalising the possession and consumption of beef in the national capital be not declared as unconstitutional.”
The affidavit has been filed by law student Gaurav Jain and an NGO in response to a PIL challenging the Constitutional validity of those provisions of the Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act which criminalise possession and consumption of beef in the city.
Interestingly, in May 2016, the Bombay High Court had struck down had struck down two sections of Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act that criminalised possession of beef of animals slaughtered outside the state while upholding the ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks in the state.
A division bench of Justices AS Oka and SC Gupte had struck down sections 5(d) and 9 (b) of the Act, which criminalised and imposed punishment on persons found in possession of beef of animals, slaughtered in the state or outside, saying it infringes upon a person’s Right to Privacy.
Under the Act of 1976, there was ban on cow slaughter and possession and consumption of their meat. However, in 2015, the ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks was also included in the Act by an amendment.
Question may arise as to why the Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal-led government did not oppose the the criminalisation of possession and consumption of beef citing the Bombay High Court order. Analysts believe that the move by the Delhi government has been taken keeping Haryana assembly elections in mind. The party, which is certain to contest elections in Haryana in future, may be eyeing the Hindu votes.
The move triggered a debate on social media, where an overwhelming users were seen concluding that AAP’s action may give legitimacy to those Hindutva goons, who’ve been killing Muslims in the name of cow and for consumption of beef. The most notable murder for rumoured possession and consumption of beef was of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri in 2015. His murder triggered a wave of subsequent lynchings and murder by the Hindutva terrorists masquerading as cow vigilantes.