The Bombay High Court has posted for final hearing on Wednesday a bunch of petitions challenging the beef ban legislation in Maharashtra. The petitions would be heard by a bench of Justices Abhay Oka and V L Achilya for three days from October 14.
In February 2015, the President had granted sanction to 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.
According to the amended Act, the sale of bulls and bullocks in the state is an offence punishable with five-year jail term and Rs 10,000 fine. Besides, possession of meat of a cow, bull or bullock is also an offence for which the punishment prescribed is one-year jail and Rs 2,000 fine.
While hearing the petition, the HC had in April refused to grant an interim stay on the law on the issue of possession of beef. Arif Kapadia, a city resident, and noted lawyer Harish Jagtiani, have challenged the provision of the law which says mere possession of beef in any place in the state is a crime.
According to Jagtiani, this provision of the law is arbitrary and hits upon the cosmopolitan nature of the city which houses people from all religions and communities. Kapadia, on the other hand, has described as "draconian" section 5(D) of the Act which makes possession of meat of any cow, bull or bullock slaughtered outside the state a cognizable and non-bailable offence with punishment upto one year in jail and Rs 2,000 fine.
Other petitions have been filed by Vishal Sheth, a lawyer, and Shaina Sen, a student. The duo said "we are Hindus who are consumers of beef which is now part of our diet and nutrition sources. The ban on beef and criminalising its sale and possession violates fundamental rights of citizens."
On September 21, the HC had rejected the plea in a bunch of petitions seeking the relaxation of beef ban in Maharashtra during a three-day period for Eid festival, also known as Bakri-Eid.
The HC was of the view that it cannot temporarily suspend the beef ban as it was hearing petitions challenging the Act.