December 6, 2015 4:31:06 am
THE MAHARASHTRA government, in an affidavit submitted in the Bombay High Court, has said that the eating habits of a group of persons do not make that group a “cultural minority” entitled to protection under Article 29 (protection of interests of minorities).
“The petitioners claim to be members of a minority group who have been eating beef as part of their culture. The concept of culture is far above issues like what one eats. If a food habit, that too not essential food, is considered to be part of culture, then there would be thousands of minority groups in the country on this basis alone,” says the affidavit.
The Bombay High Court is hearing arguments against the beef ban in the state.
“India is a vast country and people living in different parts of the country have different food cuisines… Therefore, eating a particular food does not entitle the constitution of a cultural minority, ” says the affidavit.
The state government has said that it does not have any intention to impose a “vegetarian regime or dictate or force food habits”. “The non-vegetarians are free to have their own food choices but cannot insist, as a matter of right, on a particular type of food — beef in the present case. With regard to the effect of non-vegetarian food on health, the consumers are free to have their own informed choices. The aim and object of the act is to preserve cattle for their undeniable utility in agriculture and draught sectors,” says the affidavit.
“A cattle which has served human beings is entitled to compassion in its old age when… it becomes so-called useless. It will be an act of reprehensible ingratitude to condemn a cattle in its old age as useless and send it to a slaughter house, taking away the little time from its natural life that it would have lived, forgetting its service for the major part of its life for which it has remained milch or draught,” it says.
With the petitioners relying on Article 19 (1)(g) which deals with the fundamental right to “practice any profession or carry on any occupation, trade or business,” the state government has said that this right is subject to Article 19 (6) which permits reasonable restrictions to be imposed in the interest of the general public.
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