The Bombay High Court has asked the Maharashtra government to file a reply by 6 April to a petition challenging the state's ban on people possessing beef slaughtered within or outside Maharashtra. The petition argues that the state does not have legislative powers to ban people from possessing beef of animals slaughtered outside the state.
City resident Arif Kapadia, through his counsel Firoz Bharucha, had filed a public interest litigation challenging Sections 5 (d) and (a) of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act 1995, which says that no person shall have in his possession flesh of any cow, bull or bullock slaughtered outside the state of Maharashtra.
Calling it a ''draconian law'', Bharucha argued that the state did not even bother to justify the enactment of the provision.
Under this section, any person found in possession of meat of banned animal faces imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of up to Rs2,000.
According to the petitioner, the sections are illegal, arbitrary and violate the fundamental rights of the citizens, and need to be struck down.
"By banning possession, the state government has effectively banned import of meat in Maharashtra. The Act and its provisions can be applied only to cattle slaughtered in Maharashtra. The law enacted by this state cannot apply to cattle slaughtered outside. These sections banning possession is excessive, arbitrary and draconian," the petition states.
The petition has sought the court to grant interim relief by directing the government to not initiate action against any person found in possession of the flesh of cattle slaughtered outside Maharashtra.