Mumbai : The Maharashtra government on Tuesday told the Bombay high court that there was no fundamental right to eat beef. A division bench of Justice VM Kanade and Justice MS Sonak is hearing petitions challenging the state’s new law the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act that bans the slaughter of bulls and bullocks along with cows.
”It is not a fundamental right of a citizen to eat the flesh of cow and its progeny,” said advocate general Sunil Manohar. ”It cannot be said that a citizen can eat what he wants. A person cant claim that he has a right to eat wild animals that are protected like the wild boar or deer. The right to choice of food operates till such a time that there is a valid law to control and regulate it. The MAPA Act is a valid law,” added the advocate general.
The state was responding to petitions claiming that the beef ban law was a violation of the fundamental right to life (Article 21) that includes the right to choice of food.
The state also claimed that provisions of the MAPA Act that criminalized bringing beef into the state and its possession even if the animal has been slaughtered outside Maharashtra was necessary for proper implementation of the law. The advocate general said that the complete ban was essential to curb illegal trade and evasion of law.
The Maharashtra government had claimed that it brought in the beef ban law to protect the cow and its progeny due to the many benefits of the animal — from milk to use of its dung and urine for making pest repellents and medicinal products. In an affidavit filed before the Bombay high court by Chitrakala Suryawanshi, deputy secretary ( animal husbandry department) justified the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act that bans the slaughter of bulls and bullocks along with cows, the government pointed to state’s agrarian economy and said that the ban was a ”reasonable restriction.”
The affidavit was submitted by Maharashtra advocate general Sunil Manohar.
Besides cow milk, which the state claimed scientific research had shown to be valuable, its dung and urine was a source of fuel, manure and biogas, the affidavit said. “The waste is also used for preparing pest repellants and medicinal formulations which leads to improve public health,” the state contended.
The government denied that that the law, which criminalizes even possession of beef, violates any fundamental rights. ”It cannot be said that Simply because the possession of meat of cow progeny is banned so as to give complete effect to the directive principles of the Constitution, the right of citizen under Article 21 to have his own choice of food stands violated or stultified,” the affidavit said.
The state said that the cows, its progeny were the backbone of Maharashtra’s agrarian economy and to protect it as well as prevent cruelty to animals the law was brought into effect.
The court is hearing petition challenging the law from a range of Mumbaikars — city residents Vishal Seth and Shaina Sen have filed a petition as consumers of beef, Jogeshwari resident Arif Kapadia had pointed to discrimination as flesh of bovine is banned, but now cow leather, while a coalition of Hindu-Muslim-Christian citizens have challenged the ban as violating their fundamental right to choice of food.
Source : TOI