Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Friday said the Bombay High Court’s order upholding the ban on slaughter of beef in the state vindicated the government’s decision as Constitutional.
He, however, said the government would hold adequate consultations with legal experts on the court decision to allow possession of beef brought from other states. “If necessary, we will approach the Supreme Court,” he said.
“From the beginning, we have been arguing that the decision to ban beef was driven by agriculture welfare and agro-economics. There was absolutely no ulterior motive to target any religion or community,” he said.
Fadnavis said the state’s only concern on preserving cows and its progeny was to help farmers. “Where is the question of linking agro-industries to any religion or community?” he said.
“However, critics tried to equate the beef ban as anti-Constitutional and also linked it to certain community and religion, which is both highly objectionable and unfortunate,” the CM added.
According to Fadnavis, while overall the beef ban had been upheld, there were two aspects that had been struck down by the court. “While adhering to the court’s directives, we will take a relook at those aspects,” he said.
The court said the objective of the ban was to protect the cow and its progeny, not to prevent citizens from eating beef that may be brought from a state or a country where there is no prohibition on cow slaughter.
The court allowed possession of beef procured from other states on the ground that it otherwise amounts to regulating inter-state transportation, which is not under an individual state’s jurisdiction.
Now, this comes in the way of enforcing the ban on possession of beef acquired or transported from states outside Maharashtra. “Yet, we will discuss this aspects with experts and find a way out. If there is a provision, we will take up the matter with the apex court,” Fadnavis said.
The court also struck down the provision in the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1976 that put the burden on an accused person found in possession of beef to prove his or her innocence. The court held that that too infringes on the fundamental rights of a person. Instead, the court feels the burden of proof should rest with the state and prosecution to prove the offence against any individual.