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Keeping of imported beef no longer a crime in Maha

Mumbai: Bombay High Court’s constitution bench consisting of Justice AS Oka and Justice SC Gupte, in a significant verdict said on 6 May that keeping and eating of beef (cow meat) imported or brought into Maharashtra from other states will no longer be a crime, though it upheld most of the provisions of the original Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976 and the amended Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act 2015, under which sale and slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks is banned and its violation is a punishable offence. Under the amended Act of 2015 sale of the cow family i.e. cows, bulls and / or bullocks for slaugher is punishable with 5 years jail and a fine of Rs. 10,000. In addition to sale and slaughter of these animals, possession of beef (cow meat) and its consumption or eating was also made a crime but with lesser punishment, i.e. one year’s jail punishment and a fine of Rs. 2000. Though many dissenting voices were raised by common and other people, for the first time an industrialist of repute, Adi Godrej also raised his voice in opposition to sale and consumption of beef recently. Anyway the Bombay High Court bench struck down the provisions of the amended Act under which possession and consumption of beef was made a punishable offence on the ground that these violated fundamental rights of citizens guaranteed under Art 21 of the Indian Constitution and ruled that beef brought to Maharashtra from outside the state for keeping and eating will no longer be a criminal offence. The Maharashtra government now proposes to challenge this verdict of Bombay High Court in Supreme Court. For this purpose it is consulting legal authorites.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 June 2016 on page no. 15

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