The Maharashtra government contended before the Bombay High Court that its decision to impose a comprehensive ban on beef was in furtherance of the Directive Principles of State Policy enumerated in the Constitution.
Advocate General Srihari Aney, representing the state, also cited a Supreme Court judgement that says that any law which is in line with the Directive Principles should be regarded as having been enacted in the public interest.
The division bench of justices A S Oka and S C Gupte is currently hearing a clutch of public interest litigations challenging the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act.
While the original act of 1976 bans slaughter of cows, the amendment prohibits slaughter of bulls too, making it an offence punishable with five-year jail term and Rs. 10,000 fine. Further, even possession and consumption of beef can attract one year in jail and Rs. 2,000 fine.
Aney argued that it was part of the fundamental duties of the state under the Constitution to take such a step (of imposing ban on beef).
The advocate general also supported the arguments of advocate Anil Anturkar, who is representing an intervenor, that ‘right to food’ is covered by right to life and liberty guaranteed by the Article 21, but not the right to ‘choice of food’.
Senior counsel Aspi Chinoy, appearing for one of the petitioners, had argued earlier that by criminalising even possession and consumption of beef, the state government had violated the fundamental right of right to choice of food under Article 21. The hearing would continue on Friday.