Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday ruled that possession of beef slaughtered outside Maharashtra would not be a criminal offence.
However, the SC upheld the Maharashtra government`s decision to ban the slaughter of bullocks in the state.
The ruling by a division bench comprising Justice AS Oka and Justice SC Gupte came on a bunch of petitions challenging the provisions in the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act which stipulated penal action even for possession of beef brought from outside the state.
Accordingly, while slaughter of bullocks would not be permitted, the court has permitted the import and consumption of beef from other states to Maharashtra.
The President had granted assent to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, which prohibited slaughter of bulls and bullocks as well as possession and consumption of their meat in the state.
The Act stipulated a five-year jail term and Rs 10,000 fine for slaughter of bulls or bullocks and one-year imprisonment and Rs 2,000 fine for possession of its meat.
Arif Kapadia, a city resident, and noted lawyer Harish Jagtiani had challenged the provision which says mere possession of beef anywhere in the state is a crime.
This is arbitrary and undermines the cosmopolitan nature of the city which houses people from all religions and communities, they had contended.
Other petitions had been filed by Vishal Sheth, a lawyer, and Shaina Sen, a student, contending that the ban on beef violates fundamental rights of citizens.
(With Agency inputs)