If it was a ban on cattle slaughter yesterday, tomorrow it could encompass the entire animal kingdom. That’s what the Maharashtra government seems to be thinking of the trajectory its beef ban will take, going by what advocate general Sunil Manohar said in the Bombay high court on Monday. “This is just the beginning,” Manohar said.
Appearing for the government to answer a string of petitions against the recently-instituted ban on beef, Manohar said the ban was meant not just to protect cows, bullocks and bulls in the interest of the agrarian economy, but also to instill in citizens “a sense of compassion towards all living beings”. The ban on possession and consumption of beef was incidental to the prohibition on slaughter, Manohar said. It was when the division bench of justices VM Kanade and AR Joshi asked why the “sense of compassion” was restricted to cow progeny that Manohar declared: “This is just beginning, and the state may consider taking it further.”
Manohar was responding to petitions that challenged 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 cows and bulls that are slaughtered outside Maharashtra. Senior counsel Aspi Chinoy, appearing for one of the petitioners, argued that if the object of the act was to preserve cattle in Maharashtra, then import of meat should be allowed.
In reply, advocate general Manohar pointed to a Supreme Court observation that cows and draught animals deserve sympathy and cannot be sent to slaughterhouses. He also refuted the argument that the ban impinged on people’s right to privacy saying the government did not wish to impose a ban on eating beef but the same could not be separated from cow slaughter as it was mainly done for the animal’s flesh.
The court directed the government to file its affidavit in reply to the petitions and posted the hearing for April 20.
Why ban only on slaughter of cows and bulls?