Constitutional validity of Sections 5D and 9B of Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, struck down

Bombay High Court: Deciding a petition challenging various provisions of Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act 1976 as amended by Maharashtra  Preservation Act 1995, a bench consisting A.S. Oka and S.C. Gupte, J.J., struck down two amendments of  Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act 1976 and upheld the constitutional validity of rest of the provisions.

In the case, where a complete prohibition on slaughter of bulls and bullocks was imposed in addition to the slaughter of cows by an Amendment Act of 1995, the petitioners contended that incorporation of Section 5D infringes upon the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 which includes right to have food of one’s own choice and section 9B imposes a negative duty upon a person who is found in possession of the meat. To the contrary, it was contended by the Advocate General that right to choose food cannot be expanded to include a particular kind of food. It was further submitted that the amendment was in consonance with  Article 47, 48, 48A and 51A of Directive Principles of State Policy. However, the Court disagreed with the contentions of the Advocate General.

Considering the aforesaid arguments, the Court adopted the principle of ‘conscious possession’ which states that ‘possession with the knowledge that the flesh is of cow, bull or bullock which is slaughtered in contravention of Section 5 of Animal Preservation Act’ and upheld the validity of Section 5C. The Court declared Section 5D and 9B unconstitutional and not fair, just and reasonable. The Court was of the view that prohibition of possession of flesh of cow, bull or bullock which is slaughtered outside the State is an infringement of right to privacy which is embodied in Article 21 which is an integral part of personal liberty. [Sheikh Zahid Mukhtar v State of Maharashtra, 2016 SCC OnLine Bom 2600, decided on May 6, 2016]

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