It struck down as “unconstitutional” provisions which held mere possession of beef as crime, saying only “conscious possession” of the meat of animals slaughtered in the state will be held as an offence.
In February 2015, President Pranab Mukherjee had granted assent to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act (MAPA Act).
The slaughter of cows was already prohibited in the state under Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976. The new Act also banned slaughter of bulls and bullocks, previously permitted on a fit-for-slaughter certificate.
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A division bench of Justices A S Oka and S C Gupte struck down sections 5(d) and 9 (b) of the Maharashtra Animals Preservation (Amendment) Act, which criminalised and imposed punishment on persons found in possession of beef of animals, slaughtered in the state or outside, saying it infringes upon a person’s Right to Privacy.
The order came on a bunch of petitions filed in the high court challenging the constitutional validity of the Act.
Chinoy pointed out that in several other states there was a ban on the slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks, but there was no ban on import of beef from other states or other countries. He said section 5(d) curtails the fundamental right of choice of food of citizens, covered under the right to liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India.