The Bombay high court on Friday upheld the Maharashtra government’s law to ban slaughter of bulls and bullocks, but held as “unconstitutional” the ban on possession of beef. A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Suresh Gupte, rejected a plea by the State to stay the part of the judgment that decriminalised the possession of beef. The Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act was enacted in March 2015 and bans the slaughter of bulls and bullocks, in addition to an earlier ban on the slaughter of cows.
The law makes the sale of bulls, bullocks for slaughter a crime, punishable with a jail term of up to five years and a fine of Rs 10,000. Section 5D says that possession of meat of a cow, bull or bullock, even if slaughtered outside the state,? is an offence than can be punished with one-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,000.Many of the petitions have focussed their challenge on section 5D, which makes possession a crime. The ban on beef, the said is a violation of the fundamental right to life and liberty, especially the right to be left alone. The Maharashtra government justified the ?ban contending that there was no fundamental right to choice of food or any right to eat beef. The state also claimed that the making possession of beef a crime was necessary in order to ensure effective implementation of the ban.