Bombay HC decriminalises beef possession, upholds ban on slaughter of bulls, bullocks in Maharashtra

May 7, 2016 10:20 IST

The Bombay High Court on 6 May 2016 upheld the ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks in Maharashtra indicating that consumption of beef will remain banned across the state.

A division bench of Justices AS Oka and SC Gupte, however, struck down provisions that criminalised possession of beef of animals slaughtered outside the state.

Highlights of the Judgement

• Referring to these provisions as "unconstitutional", the bench said only "conscious possession" of the meat of animals slaughtered in the state will be held as an offence.

• With this ruling, the burden of proving innocence will not be on individuals and the onus to prove that the law was violated lies on the prosecution.

• In a 245-page strongly worded judgement, the High Court said the sections that criminalised possession of beef is an infringement on the right to privacy of citizens.

• It said that the state cannot make an intrusion into a citizen’s home and prevent him from possessing and eating food of his choice.

• The bench added that citizens are required to be let alone especially when the food of their choice is not injurious to health.

The ruling was passed by the bench while hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Maharashtra Animals Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995 and in particular, possession and consumption of beef from animals slaughtered outside Maharashtra.

While the Act had banned slaughter of cows, way back in 1976, the recent amendments prohibited slaughter of bulls and bullocks, possession and consumption of their meat.

As per the Act, slaughter attracts a five-year jail term and 10000 rupees fine while possession of meat of bull or bullocks.

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