AFTER the Supreme Court upheld privacy as a “fundamental right” on Thursday, petitioners from Maharashtra who have challenged the state government’s beef ban believe that their case has been strengthened. The ban, which has been challenged in the apex court, is scheduled to come up for hearing on September 4. Sadiq Qureshi, Western Maharashtra head of the All India Jamiatul Quresh (an all-India organisation representing the traditional community which deals with animal slaughter and meat trade), said they had moved the court immediately after the state government banned the slaughter and trade of animals belonging to cow progeny. The community had earlier challenged the beef ban in Bombay High Court, which had led to a reading down of the Act. The Devendra Fadnavis-led government had banned the slaughter of bulls, bullocks, oxens and heifers in 2014.
Qureshi said they have challenged the ban in the Supreme Court and they are fighting for a complete removal of the ban. The organisation claims to be fighting for lakhs from their community members who have been thrown in the chasms of penury. “We are hopeful the Supreme Court will hear our pleas positively,” Qureshi said. In the Bombay High Court, Qureshi said their case resulted in the dilution of the ban and, armed with the recent judgment on privacy, they are confident of overthrowing the ban completely. “Almost 50 per cent of our community have been rendered unemployed because of the ban,” he said.
Meanwhile, legal eagles in Pune also expressed their opinion that the judgment “can” have an effect on the ongoing case. Senior lawyer Harshad Nimbalkar said privacy has been declared as a fundamental right and this will have a bearing on the case. “The plea can be raised quoting this judgment as what people eat or what they believe in is a fundamental right and should be protected,” he said. The senior lawyer, however, said it all depends on how the court decides the matter after careful consideration.
Similarly, advocate Asim Sarode also said that the matter is expected to have a bearing in the case. “The matter is more of expression which is guaranteed in Article 19 and also of expression of eating which is enshrined in Article 20,” he said. Regulating food habits, Sarode said, would be akin to peeping into the kitchens of individuals which would be a violation of the Right to Privacy.