Beef bar in J&K: SC asks HC to set up 3-judge bench to decide

The Supreme Court today suspended for two months a controversial court order for enforcing a legal bar on the sale of beef in Jammu and Kashmir while asking the Chief Justice of J-K High Court to set up a three-judge bench to decide on two conflicting orders on the issue.

A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu directed that the September 8 order of the Jammu bench of the High Court, by which it had ordered enforcement of bar on sale of beef in the state in pursuance of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) provisions, be kept in abeyance for two months.

The bench also referred to the order passed by another division bench of high court at Srinagar which issued a notice on a PIL demanding scrapping of the RPC provision.

The bench, also comprising Justice Amitava Roy, said, “Since there are conflicting expressions given by two division benches of the high court, we request the learned Chief Justice to constitute a bench of three learned judges to take a decision on the writ petitions.”

Asking the apex court registry to intimate its counter part about the order “forthwith”, the court further said that the Chief Justice of the high court will be at liberty to decide the place where the larger bench will hear and decide together the two writ petitions.

The bench disposed of the petition filed by the state government which had said that the inconsistent views of the two benches of the high court were being “misused” to disturb peace and communal harmony in the state.

While the Jammu bench of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had ordered enforcement of the bar on the sale of beef in the state under the RPC, the Srinagar bench agreed to hear a separate plea seeking scrapping of the provision that bars slaughter of bovine animals.

The order asking the police to enforce the bar had led to strong protests in the state and forced a three-day internet shutdown during the Eid festival to avert any flare-ups.