J&K High Court on Friday vacated both the petitions pertaining to the beef ban issue and directed J&K government through Chief Secretary to take appropriate steps on the issues raised in both the petitions.
The full bench of the court comprising, Justice Ali Mohammad Magray, Justice Tashi Rabstan and Justice Muzuffar Hussain Attar also gave a view that it is the prerogative of the legislature to consider the issues involved in these petitions regarding the beef ban.
On Saturday, Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court constituted a three member bench to address the beef ban issue that had snowballed into a major political controversy in the state.
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Earlier, Supreme Court in its order had asked Chief Justice J&K High Court to set up the bench at Srinagar and place before it both the matters in which two “conflicting” orders were passed in September.
Previously, the government had moved a petition in the Supreme Court in which the state had contended that the two conflicting orders have grave ramifications for the law and order since the orders were being misused so as to disturb peace in the state.
Recently, J&K High Court granted three week’s time to the state government to file its response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that challenged the Cow Slaughter Act in the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC).
On September 17, the High Court had issued notice to the state government after a PIL was admitted in the court. The PIL was filed by a retired law professor Afzal Qadri, in which he had challenged the constitutional validity of RPC sections 298-A and 298-B, which regulate the ban on bovine slaughter and beef sale in Jammu and Kashmir.
While section 298-A of the RPC makes killing of bovine animals a punishable offence, the 298-B makes “possession of any slaughtered animal” a punishable act in the state.
In September 8, a division bench of High Court comprising Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal had ordered the government to strictly enforce the ban on sale of beef across the state, leading to widespread opposition and started a political controversy in the state. Even separatist and religious leaders termed it as interference in the religion.
Opposition National Conference, independent legislator, Sheikh Abdul Rashid and CPI (M) legislator, Mohammad Yusuf Taragami had submitted separate bills in the state assembly secretariat seeking to scrap the ban on beef in Jammu and Kashmir. However, bills were not taken up for the discussion in the assembly.