Maha beef ban continues but no action against offenders for 3 months: HC

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday upheld the Maharashtra government's decision to ban sale and consumption of beef in the state.

However, the court directed the state not to take any coercive action till pendency of petitions or three months against traders who have been found in possession or transportation of beef and said that the police should not invade the privacy of citizens.

"This is because the Act had been introduced suddenly and reasonable time was not given to the traders to dispose of their products," said the Judges. However, FIRs can be registered against such traders but no further action can be taken until the petitions are decided finally or three months whichever is earlier, the court said.

A division bench headed by Justice V M Kanade was of the view that no stay can be given until the final hearing of a bunch of petitions challenging the beef ban which was fixed on June 25.

HC refuses to stay Maharashtra law on beef ban until final hearingRepresentational picture.

The court asked the state government to file a detailed affidavit on the issue within four weeks and allowed the petitioners to file rejoinders two weeks thereafter.

Also Read: No plan to ban slaughter of other animals: Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis 

The Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, enforced last month by the state government, bans slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks and also consumption and possession of their meat.

Three petitions were filed challenging Sections 5(d) and 9(a) of the Act which prohibits possession, transportation and consumption of meat of cow, bulls and bullocks even if the animals have been slaughtered outside Maharashtra.

Also Read: Ban on beef will put all of us on the streets, say butchers 

According to the petitions, this puts a ban on import of meat. The petitions sought a stay on these sections.

The court also clarified that since ban on beef continues in the State under the Act, FIRs can be registered against slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks. As a note of caution, the Court also said that the state shall not intrude on the privacy of citizens to find out if they are in possession of beef or any other form of meat.

Also Read: Maharashtra bans cow slaughter; Rs10K fine, 5 years jail for sale or possession

The court clarified that no blanket stay can be imposed on the provisions of the Act which ban transportation or possession of beef, though FIR can be registered against the offenders under the Act.

The judges said they were of the view that the traders had not been given reasonable time to dispose of the beef products as the Act was brought in all of a sudden. Hence they directed the State not to take coercive steps against them though FIR can be registered.

"There can be no compelling reason for the State to impose ban without giving a reasonable opportunity to traders.

The judges said they were of the view that the traders had not been given reasonable time to dispose of the beef products as the Act was brought in all of a sudden. Hence they directed the State not to take coercive steps against them though FIR can be registered.

"There can be no compelling reason for the State to impose ban without giving a reasonable opportunity to traders provided they abided by the rules on food hygiene and safety," said the division bench in their brief order.

Senior counsel Aspi Chinoy, appearing for one of the petitioners, had argued that such a ban on consumption was violative of the fundamental right of a person to have his choice of food.

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