The Supreme Court Friday said that the landmark verdict affirming individual privacy as a fundamental right will have ‘some bearing’ in matters related to the possession of beef in Maharashtra.
The observation was made by the top court as it was hearing a number of appeals filed against the May 6, 2016 verdict of the Bombay High Court decriminalising the possession of beef in case of animals slaughtered outside Maharashtra. A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan was informed by a lawyer that Thursday’s judgement from a nine-judge Constitution bench was important for adjudication of the appeal.
The verdict, delivered on Thursday by the top court, has far-reaching impact on the lives of people as right to privacy was guaranteed as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as part of freedoms under Part III of the constitution. Justice Chelameswar and Justice Chandrachud, both of whom were part of the nine-judge Constitution bench, held that the right to food of one’s choice is part of the right to privacy. Therefore, it was apparent that the judgment will have a bearing on matters of consumption of beef and alcohol.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for some of the petitioners, referred to the privacy judgement and said the right to eat food of one’s choice is now protected under privacy. She told the bench that Maharashtra government’s appeal challenging the high court verdict was already pending before another bench of the top court.
In January this year, the Bombay High Court upheld the ban imposed by the Maharashtra government on the consumption of beef. Anyone found to be selling beef or in possession of it can be jailed for five years and fined Rs 10,000.
The Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, banning the slaughter of bulls and bullocks, had come into force a year ago. The Bill was passed in the Assembly almost 19 years ago during the BJP-Shiv Sena government. The Act however allows the slaughter of water buffaloes, seen as an inferior quality meat that make up 25 per cent of the total beef market in the state.
(With inputs from PTI)