The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday ordered the Director General of Police (DGP) to strictly enforce a 150-year-old legal provision banning the sale of beef across the state. The directions, which came from a division bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal over a public interest litigation filed by advocate Parimoksh Seth, followed the observation that “the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, has not filed an appropriate response regarding the smuggling and slaughtering of bovine animals and subsequently their sale in Kashmir Valley’’.
Quoting provisions of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), which provides for penal action for slaughter of a bovine or other similar animals and their subsequent sale in the state, petitioner’s counsel Sunil Sethi pointed out that such activities were going on uninterruptedly in connivance with government officials in some parts of the state.The PIL, seeking the court’s intervention, was filed by Seth in 2014.
Directing the DGP to strictly enforce these RPC provisions, the bench asked him to order all district police chiefs and SHOs of all police stations to ensure that there was no sale of beef in their respective areas. The bench held that strict action shall be taken against anybody found violating these provisions.
The Ranbir Penal Code came into being during the period of the second Dogra ruler of the state, Maharaja Ranbir Singh, in 1862. Section 298A of the RPC provides for 10-year imprisonment and fine to a person intentionally killing or slaughtering a cow or a similar animal. Its Section 298B also provides for imprisonment and fine to anyone selling the slaughtered animal.
Meanwhile, the court’s directive evoked a strong reaction from the separatists in Kashmir. Hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani asked the people to protest against the decision of J&K High Court and termed it an interference in the matters of the Muslims.
“On Friday, a protest will be held across the state against the decision, and on Saturday, complete shutdown will be observed in the Valley,’’ Hurriyat Conference (G) spokesman said while quoting Geelani.
“It is a politically motivated decision taken at the behest of the BJP and the RSS only to create communal violence in the state so that freedom movement of Kashmiris is badly portrayed by India,’’ alleged Geelani.
Chairman of the National Front and separatist leader Nayeem Khan said: “Muslims have to follow Shariah (Islamic Law) and not the dictations of any court, government or bureaucracy. Nobody on the earth can tell Muslims what they should eat. This decision has hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims.’’
Meanwhile, independent MLA from Langate, Sheikh Rashid on Thursday submitted a bill in the Assembly secretariat seeking repealing of Section 298A and Section 298B of the RPC.
Terming the high court’s decision as unfortunate, he condemned the state government for not pleading the case before the double bench effectively.
“It should not be the domain of any government or the court to decide what people should. Every religion, including Islam, has laid down clear guidelines for its devotees about what they should do and what they shouldn’t do,’’ he said.