The Bombay High Court Friday upheld the Maharashtra government’s ban on slaughter of beef in the state while allowing people to consume beef imported from other states, observing that a ban on imported beef would be “an infringement of right of privacy, which is a fundamental right”.
The court said the objective of the ban was to protect the cow and its progeny, not to prevent citizens from eating beef that may be brought from a state or a country where there is no prohibition on cow slaughter.
Under Article 21 of the Constitution, citizens are protected from unnecessary state intrusion into their home, the court held. The court also struck down a provision in the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1976, which put the burden on a person found to be in possession of beef to prove his innocence. The court said that, too, infringes on the fundamental rights of a person.
The state argued that striking down these provisions will make it difficult to implement the beef ban, in place since March last year. Former Advocate General Shreehari Aney had earlier argued that “other provisions cannot exist without 5D (possession of meat slaughtered from outside the state)”. The 2015 amendment to the 1976 law envisaged preventing not only slaughter but also consumption.