Maharashtra law on beef curtails right to liberty: lawyer

Mumbai: The lawyers arguing against Maharashtra government’s controversial amendment which prohibits even possession of the bovine meat and its import today said it interfered with the Constitutional right to liberty.

The division bench of the Justices Abhay Oka and S C Gupte of the Bombay High Court started final hearing on a bunch of petitions which challenge Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995.

Advocate Firoz Bharucha, appearing for one of petitioners, said ban on import of beef restricts food habits of individuals and also violates Article 304B of the Constitution which mandates free trade and commerce within territories of India.

Senior advocate Aspi Chenoy, appearing for another petitioner, said section 5(d) which criminalises possession of beef, had no “rational nexus” with the object of the Act.

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There was no reason for the state to be worried about the cows and bullocks in other countries or states, he said.

Other states in India have banned slaughter of cows and bulls but not import of beef, he said.

“What section 5(d) seeks to do is to curtail the fundamental right of choice of food…covered under the Right to Liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of Constitution,” he argued.

‘Reasonable restrictions’ can be imposed on the fundamental rights but they must involve some compelling public interest, he said.

The arguments will continue on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Justice Oka today said each lawyer would be allowed to argue only for 75 minutes.