The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought the response of Maharashtra government on a plea challenging a Bombay High Court verdict which held that mere possession of
beef of animals slaughtered outside the state cannot invite criminal action.
A bench of Justices A K Sikri and D Y Chandrachud issued notice to the state on the plea filed by ‘Akhil Bharat Krishi Goseva Sangh’.
The counsel appearing for the Sangh told the apex court that they were challenging part of the May 6 verdict of the High Court which had said provisions of the Maharashtra Animal
Preservation (Amendment) Act, which criminalise possession of beef, is an infringement on the right to privacy of citizens and unconstitutional.
The High Court had also upheld the ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks in Maharashtra while striking down two sections of the state Act which criminalised possession of
Striking down sections 5(d) and 9(b) of the Act which criminalised and imposed punishment for possession of beef of animals slaughtered in the state or outside, the high court
had held that the state cannot control what a citizen does in his house, which is his own castle, provided he is not doing something contrary to the law.
“Sections 5(d) which provides that no person shall have in his possession flesh of cow, bull or bullock slaughtered outside Maharashtra is unconstitutional and infringes upon a citizen’s right to privacy,” the high court had said.
The court had also modified section 5(c) of the Act, which makes possession of beef of animal slaughtered in the state an offence, and had said only “conscious possession” of such
meat will be held as an offence.
The high court’s order had come on the bunch of petitions challenging the provision of the law which had said that mere possession of beef in any place in the state is a crime.
In February 2015, the President had granted sanction to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act. While the Act had banned slaughter of cows way back in 1976, the recent amendments prohibited slaughter of bulls and bullocks, possession and consumption of their meat.
As per the Act, slaughter attracts a five-year jail term and Rs 10,000 fine and possession of meat of bull or bullock hands over one-year jail and Rs 2,000 fine.