The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned the hearing on beef ban in Maharashtra and its export for eight weeks. The apex court earlier on September 2 issued notice to the Maharashtra Government on this matter. Earlier, the top court had issued notice to the BJP-led state government on a petition challenging a Bombay High Court order, permitting consumption of beef brought from states that allow cow slaughter.
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The Bombay High Court had in May upheld the ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks in Maharashtra, while making it clear that mere possession of beef of animals slaughtered outside the state cannot invite criminal action. The High Court struck down Sections 5(d) and 9(b) of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act which criminalised and imposed punishment for possession of beef of animals slaughtered in the state or outside.
Around 36 beef dealers associations across Maharashtra had in August filed a petition in the top court challenging the ban. The dealers want the court to permit the slaughter of cattle – bulls and bullocks, not cows – of more than 16 years of age. They said that after the age of 16, cattle are too old to be used for farming and other activities.
The petition has challenged the constitutional validity of the Maharashtra Animals Preservation (Amendment) Act, 2015, that bans the slaughter, possession, consumption and import of beef in the state. In March last year, the BJP-led state government had banned the slaughtering of bulls, bullocks and cows by amending the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1976, that was challenged in the Bombay High Court.