Beef ban: SC refuses to hear plea for hearing in Jammu bench

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to entertain a plea seeking a direction that a three-judge bench should hear the petitions on enforcement of a prohibition on slaughter of cow and beef sale in the state in Jammu instead of Srinagar bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

"Yesterday night, I had a talk with the learned Chief Justice and he is not expecting any problem whatsoever," a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra said.

The observation of the bench came when the counsel for the petitioner, who had filed the PIL before the Jammu bench of the high court, said that there could be a law and order problem if matters are heard and decided at Srinagar bench. As the bench expressed its view, the petitioner Parimoksh Seth sought permission to withdraw his fresh plea and sought a liberty to move the apex court again in case he felt aggrieved by any subsequent order of high court. The plea was allowed.

Earlier, the apex court had suspended for two months a controversial court order for enforcing a legal bar on the sale of beef in Jammu and Kashmir while asking the Chief Justice of J-K High Court to set up a three-judge bench to decide on two conflicting orders on the issue.

The apex court had kept in abeyance the September 8 order of the Jammu bench of the High Court which had ordered enforcement of bar on sale of beef in the state in pursuance of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) provisions.

The bench had also referred to the order passed by another division bench of high court at Srinagar which issued a notice on a PIL demanding scrapping of the RPC provision.

The apex court had said, "Since there are conflicting expressions given by two division benches of the high court, we request the learned Chief Justice to constitute a bench of three learned judges to take a decision on writ petitions."

The apex court had further said the HC Chief Justice will be at liberty to decide the place where the larger bench will hear and decide together the two writ petitions. The Supreme Court's decision had come on the plea of the state government which had said that the inconsistent views of the two benches of the high court were being 'misused' to disturb peace and communal harmony in the state.

While the Jammu bench of the High Court had ordered enforcement of the bar on the sale of beef in the state under the RPC, the Srinagar bench agreed to hear a separate plea seeking scrapping of the provision that bars slaughter of bovine animals.

In its order, the Jammu bench had said, "The Director General of Police is directed to ensure that appropriate directions are issued to all the SSPs/SPs, SHOs of various police districts so that there is no sale of beef anywhere in the State of J&K and strict action is taken in accordance with the law against those who indulge in it."

On the other hand, the Srinagar bench, on September 16, issued notice on a plea that had sought striking down of the RPC provision banning slaughter of bovine animals.

The Srinagar bench had also said that the pendency of the plea before it will not operate "as a bar" if the state wants
to do away with the provision.

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