THE Bombay High Court has refused to grant any relaxation on beef ban for three days during Bakr-Eid. Observing that such “drastic relief” cannot be granted, the High Court said Monday granting interm stay would amount to staying the ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks under Section 5 of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act.
A section of the Muslim community had filed several petitions in the High Court, seeking relaxation on the complete ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks for three days, September 25-27. Bakr-Eid is on September 25. The petitioners had argued slaughter was an essential part of Muslim religion and the blanket ban violated their Constitutional rights.
Justice A S Oka and Justice V L Achliya, however, observed, “Such drastic relief cannot be granted. Prayer of relief will have the effect of staying Section 5 of the principal Act.”
“Can interim relief be granted on the state government’s statutory power? If there was power of relaxation under the Act, we would have asked the government to consider it. How do we grant relief without staying the statutory provision?” said the bench.
The High Court refused to accept the petitioners’ contention sacrifice of animals was an essential part of the Muslim community’s religious practice. With arguments made for granting relief based on Article 25 of the Constitution (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion), the High Court said an investigation was required. “Without which, it is not possible to give a finding that amended Section 5 of the Act is unjust or unconstitutional,” the bench observed.
The bench said the state government could consider the prayers of the petitioners. Advocate General Anil Singh, however, said the government was not in a position to hear an application to stay the law. Singh argued that there were other animals allowed for sacrifice and, hence, it was not essential to offer a bull or bullock for sacrifice, though it was an option.
One of the reasons for seeking relaxation on the ban was that sacrificing a bull is more economical than sacrificing goats. The argument made in favour of allowing slaughter was that the amended Act was passed almost 20 years ago, but no inquiry was made on the existing position or situation of cows, bulls and buffaloes. Senior counsel Gayatri Singh, appearing for the Indian Union Muslim League, said relaxation should be allowed on the ground of “right to carry out religious practice of sacrifice, which is an integral part of the religion”.
She argued that because of the total ban, prices of goats had skyrocketed, which was now unaffordable to poor Muslims.
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