The Bombay High Court on Friday upheld the beef ban imposed by the state government after the enactment of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, which bans slaughter of bulls, bullocks. The Act came into force over a year ago.
The high court, however, said that mere possession of the meat cannot invite criminal action while striking down the relevant sections of the act. “Mere possession will be read down as conscious possession,” said Justice A S Oka while giving the judgement on Friday. This essentially means that unless someone is consciously bringing in meat into Maharashtra, the burden of proving his innocence is not on the person.
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“We uphold the constitutional validity sections which ban slaughter in the state,” said the HC.
The court, while striking down 5D (possession of meat slaughtered outside the state) 9B that makes such possession of such meat a criminal offence, said, “These sections infringe on a person’s right to privacy which is a fundamental right under article 21(right to life),” said the court.
The court did not grant any relief to the government which had sought a stay on striking down of these sections from the act. Several petitions had been filed in the court against beef ban stating that the criminalisation of 5D was draconian.