Mumbai: Citizens of Maharashtra can now eat beef imported from places where slaughter of bulls and bullocks is legal and the burden to prove contravention of the Act shifts from the accused to the state.
Former advocate general of Maharashtra Shrihari Aney who had argued on behalf of state government in the high court said, “Mostly the judgment is right on the aspect they (the judges) have set aside the law about criminal prosecution and have protected the right of accused. My submission was on the same lines that this should happen (the burden of proof should not be on the accused.)”
He also said that there are two parts of judgment with which he is not satisfied. “One is permission to inter-state trade of beef. If the beef ban is legal and valid then inter-state trade should also has to be impermissible because the authorities cannot enforce the ban if inter-state business is allowed.”
He further added although the second part is not going to affect the judgment, he had argued before the court that Right to Privacy is not part of Fundamental Right to Life but this was not accepted by the court.
According to him, “The court thought the Right to Privacy is part of Fundamental Right to Life which I don’t think is a correct legal position and the judgment could be challenged on these two aspects in the Supreme Court.”
Senior counsel Aspi Chinoy said, “It is a very salutary judgment, in the sense that it upholds the rights of citizens against any intrusion of this nature on the personal liberty.”
He further added, “The criminalisation of mere possession and consumption has been struck down. The law was essential for preventing slaughtering of cows; from that it changed to a law to prevent the consumption of beef. Unless it is related to cow slaughter in Maharashtra, the matter is extraneous to the Act.”
“It was not the compulsion to eat beef but the fact that the state cannot and ought not to dictate to its people what they can or cannot eat that resulted in the petition being filed. It was a question of principle and we stand vindicated today.
The judgment is a victory for all the people of Maharashtra, irrespective of whether they eat beef or are vegetarian. If the state transgresses its powers, then the court can and will strike the government’s actions down as being constitutionally invalid,” said advocate Firoz Bharucha, who appeared for Arif Usman Kapadia, the first person to file a petition in the HC in this regard....