The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government the reason for banning slaughter, possession and consumption of cows, bulls and bullocks only and not including other animals in the ban under the state's animal preservation laws.
A division bench of Justices VM Kanade and AR Joshi was hearing a bunch of petitions challenging a provision under section 5(d) of the recently amended Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act which bans possession and consumption of meat of animals like cow, bull and bullock.
According to the petitions, the flesh of these animals, if slaughtered outside Maharashtra, should be allowed inside the state.
"Why has the state banned only cows, bulls and bullocks? What about other animals like goat?" the bench asked.
To this, Advocate-General Sunil Manohar said the government was considering it.
"This is just the start (banning of cows, bulls and bullocks). We may consider banning slaughter of other animals too. As of now the state felt it was necessary to protect cows, bulls and bullocks," he said.
The court also suggested the government to have a licence policy by which import of meat of cattle slaughtered outside the state can be permitted.
"Section 5(d) of the Act which is under challenge does not prohibit slaughter of cattle outside the state. Why should a person be prevented to eat or possess beef that has been slaughtered outside? Indirectly you (government) are prohibiting slaughter of animals outside the state too," Justice Kanade said.
Senior counsel Aspi Chinoy, appearing for one of the petitioners, argued that section 5(d) of the Act was arbitrary and against the fundamental right of a citizen and that if the object of the Act was to preserve cattle in Maharashtra, then import of meat should be allowed.
The Advocate-General, however, objected and said, "How can the state say slaughter of cattle in Maharashtra amounts to cruelty but one can slaughter outside the state. That would also amount to cruelty. The Act incidentally prohibits import also."
The bench directed the government to file its affidavit in reply to the petitions and posted the hearing on April 20.