New Delhi, Aug. 10 (Agencies): The Supreme Court will on Friday hear Maharashtra's petition challenging a Bombay High Court judgment that had struck down sections of a state law making mere possession of beef a criminal offence, whether the animal is slaughtered in the state or outside.
The petition will be heard by a Supreme Court bench of justices R.K. Agrawal and A.M. Sapre.
The state government has challenged the high court’s May 6, 2016, judgment striking down two sections of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act of 1995. The state had banned cow slaughter in 1976 and added bulls and bullocks in the 1995 amendment.
Sections 5(d) and 9 (b) criminalised the mere possession of beef, whether the animals were slaughtered in the state—which is illegal—or outside it. They also prescribe stiff punishment.
The high court, terming the sections as an infringement upon a person's “right to privacy” and unconstitutional, had said only “conscious possession” of the meat of such animals slaughtered in the state would be an offence.
Maharashtra’s petition says the restriction imposed by the 1995 Act on possession of the flesh of cow, bull or bullock could not be interpreted and termed as an infringement of “right to privacy”.
The state is arguing that the right to privacy has not yet been designated as a “fundamental right”.
The government says it would be easy to avoid punishment under the law if the state has to prove that the offenders were conscious of the origin of the meat.
The high court had upheld the ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks imposed by Maharashtra, but had decriminalised possession of beef in case the animals were slaughtered outside the state.