The police are merely a law enforcing agency having nothing to do with the constitutional validity of any statutory provision, the city police has told the Delhi High Court hearing a PIL seeking decriminalisation of beef consumption in the national capital. The Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act provisions prohibit slaughter, transport or export and consumption of cattle meat and beef and provide punishment for a term which may extend to five years and fine up to Rs 10,000.
“We (Delhi Police) are a law enforcing agency and we do not deal with the constitutionality of the provision under challenge before this court,” the counsel for the police told a bench headed by Chief Justice G Rohini while responding to the plea seeking decriminalisation of beef consumption in New Delhi. The court was hearing the plea by a law student and an NGO seeking setting aside of the provisions of the Delhi Act which criminalise possession and consumption of beef. Meanwhile, the Delhi government has sought time to respond to the plea by May 8, the next date of hearing.
The plea claimed that the provisions of the Act were “a case of legislative over-reach”. It has contended that “prohibition on possession and consumption of beef per se as under the Act is in violation of the fundamental rights of the petitioners and other similarly situated persons, as it infringes on their personal liberty” and causes “hostile discrimination having no nexus with the objects of the Act”.
“The right to eat the food of one’s choice is an integral part of the Right to Life and Liberty,” the PIL said, adding that the Constitution “mandates the state not to make law towards enforcement of a particular religious practice”. The petitioners have also claimed that the Act was a “gross encroachment on the rights of the petitioners to choose what they can eat”. It said the Scheduled Sastes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) “often have diet containing meats” and contended that “these communities are directly affected by enforcement of the Act”.