Court Admits Petition Challenging Beef Ban

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Issues notice to state government

SRINAGAR: In a novel and interesting twist to the beef ban controversy, the Jammu & Kashmir high court on Wednesday gave a week’s time to the state government to file its response to a writ petition challenging the constitutional validity of the section 298 A&B of the Ranbir Penal Code, which criminalizes bovine slaughter and sale of beef in the state said that if legislators wish they can go ahead and repeal the law enacted in 1896.

The notice was issued by a division bench comprising justices Mohammad Yaqoub Mir and Bhansi Lal Bhat after hearing a writ petition filed by a retired Professor Muhammad Afzal Qadri through his council Syed Faisal Qadri.

“The court admitted the petition and gave a week’s time to the government to file its response,” Faisal Qadri said. 

The counsel for the petitioner said that the importance of the Court directions lie in the fact that it threw the ball in the court of State Legislators. “The High Court said that it will have no objection if legislators will go ahead and repeal the old law,” Faisal Qadri said.

Faisal said the Court observed that the respondent state would be free to amend or repeal the impugned legislation and the pendency of the petition in the court will not come in its way. “The court admitted the petition and gave a week’s time to the government to file its response,” Faisal Qadri added.

In his petition, Qadri said that the said provisions have a direct interference with the personal liberty of the petitioner in as much as it allows an intrusion into the religious as well as private life. 

“The said provisions are further excessive in nature apart from being discriminatory and prejudicial to the rights guaranteed to the petitioner under Article 14 of the Constitution. Furthermore, the said provisions curtail and criminalise the right to profess and propagate ones religion, which otherwise is a fundamental right,” he said. 

The petitioner said the said provisions have no nexus with the Article 48 of the Constitution and therefore cannot be a basis to criminalise an act of a citizen which otherwise is provided to him by the divine law of nature in the nature of his religious practices and rituals. 

In the petition it has been prayed that “a writ or any other appropriate writ, order or direction, be issued for declaring section 298-A, 298-B, 298-C and 298-D of the Ranbir Penal Code as ultra vires to the constitution of India as well as to the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and accordingly strike down the said provisions from the Ranbir Penal Code forthwith.”

Prof. Afzal Qadri, who has retired as professor of law from the University of Kashmir had filed a petition seeking the annulment of Dogra law that forbids people from slaughtering bovine animals.

Last week, a division bench of high court in Jammu ordered the police to strictly enforce the beef ban in the state. 

The issue has brought cow-slaughter back to the public debate at a time when the two ruling coalition partners see themselves on the two opposite sides of the issue.

The court order triggered angry reactions in the Valley with the separatist and religious groups terming it as “interference in religious affairs”. With inputs from PTI and CNS

In his petition, Qadri said that the said provisions have a direct interference with the personal liberty of the petitioner in as much as it allows an intrusion into the religious as well as private life. 

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