A situation may arise when people’s houses are raided and citizens harassed as it will be difficult to distinguish whether the meat of a buffalo or a bull or a bullock was being eaten, this was the final argument put forth in a case in Bombay High Court that deals with the question of whether or not possession of beef from outside the state should be permitted.
Petitioners have challenged Section 5D of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995, which restricts people from bringing beef from outside the state and consuming it.
Under the new law, sale or possession of beef can lead to a five-year jail term and a fine of Rs 10,000.
Right after the interveners concluded their arguments on Thursday, petitioners’ counsel Aspi Chinoy, Mihir Desai and Firoz Bharucha made their final arguments.
“In the privacy of your home, these kinds of intrusion can be expected. Even when you are in a restaurant having buffalo meat, a policeman may come and ask what you are eating,” Chinoy told the court.
He also went on to question the state if they would appoint an expert to differentiate between buffalo meat and beef.
The ban on cow slaughter was enforced two decades ago, but there was no restriction on slaughter and consumption of buffaloes or bullocks until now, said Chinoy. He asked the government why it did not point out earlier that the ban on cow slaughter was getting affected because the sale and consumption of flesh of bulls and bullocks was allowed.
Without breaking the chain of arguments, Bharucha said, “It is clearly a colourable legislation.”
Desai took over from Bharucha saying that there was no Assembly debate before the ban, which triggered a nationwide debate, was brought into practice.
He said there were five states in India where beef sale and consumption were banned, but its procurement was allowed.
Around half a dozen interventions have been filed, contesting the claim of the petitioners in the case.
Some of the interventions state that Right to Life and Liberty in the Indian Constitution is applicable to animals as well.
The state had earlier defended its decision to ban beef in Maharashtra by telling the court that eating beef was not a fundamental right.
The High Court is likely pronounce its verdict in the case on April 27 or 28.