Intervenors in the bunch of petitions challenging beef ban in Maharashtra opposed the state government’s move on the issue saying that mere possession of such meat does not amount to consumption.
The intervenors are mostly traders who are opposed to Maharashtra government’s decision of banning beef.
The division bench of justices A S Oka and S C Gupte is currently hearing a clutch of public interest litigations challenging Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act.
Counsel for intervenors argued that the Act regards possession of beef also as an offence. This, he said, was not justified because mere possession does not amount to consumption.
The government has already justified the ban saying it was in furtherance of Directive Principles of the State Policy enshrined in the Constitution.
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.
Earlier, Advocate General Srihari 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).
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.
Arguments would continue on December 23.