‘Eating beef not a fundamental right’

Arguing for its beef ban law, the Maharashtra government on Tuesday told the Bombay High Court that consumption of beef wasn’t a fundamental right, even as it likened the ban to those on ivory trade and hunting.

Advocate-General Sunil Manohar, while replying to the anti-beef ban petitioners’ argument that the State was violating the fundamental rights of citizens by not allowing even beef legally brought from other States, said cow slaughter anywhere was a “reprehensible” act.

“Now, if one wishes to have meat from an animal protected under the Wild Life Protection Act claiming that it’s his fundamental right, should he be allowed to do so? Reasonable restrictions on one’s right to food have to be in place,” he said.

Earlier, challenging Sections 5 (d) and 9 (a) of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, which prohibit possession and consumption of meat of cow, bulls and bullocks even if the animals have been slaughtered outside Maharashtra, the petitioners had said that one could eat “anything one wishes other than human flesh.”

Appearing on behalf of one of the petitioners, senior counsel Aspi Chinoy had told the court that Section 5 (D) criminalised the consumption of beef brought from outside and hence denied one the right to privacy.

‘Clause vital’

Mr. Manohar countered the submission by telling the court that if outside beef was allowed, it left the scope for transporting animals outside and re-importing the flesh. The State government is of the view that if Section 5 (d) is struck down, then the Act would remain only on paper and it would frustrate the purpose and its object which is to protect cow progeny.

Mr. Manohar recalled how it needed a complete ban on ivory trade to prevent the poaching of elephants and how a ban on sale of eggs was imposed to maintain the vegetarian status of Rishikesh.

‘There should be reasonable restrictions on one’s right to food’

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