A day after a nine-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that right to privacy is a fundamental right, a two-judge bench of the court observed that the privacy ruling will have a bearing on the Maharashtra beef ban case pending before it.
“The judgment will have some bearing on these cases,” the bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan remarked while hearing cross-appeals against the Bombay High Court order decriminalising possession of beef in case the animal was slaughtered outside the state even as it upheld the ban on slaughtering of milch cattle.
Some voluntary groups, as well as the State of Maharashtra, have challenged the High Court order. The challenge raised by the Maharashtra government is pending before a different bench of the court. Senior counsel C U Singh, who appeared for some of the petitioners who have challenged the prohibition, referred to the nine-judge bench verdict on privacy as a fundamental right. Senior counsel Indira Jaising, who also appeared for these petitioners, said the privacy judgment protected one’s right to eat food of their choice.
Jaising also sought a review of the Supreme Court’s 2004 judgment in the State of Gujarat vs Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab case in which a seven-judge bench had imposed a total ban on slaughter of bovines even if unproductive.
Jaising said there were other larger issues which she was raising besides privacy and that it should be heard by a larger bench. The court adjourned the matter for two weeks. At the next hearing, it will decide on the plea for a larger bench to take up the matter.