Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday upheld the controversial decision of Maharashtra government to ban slaughter of bullocks in the state.
The High Court pronounced the judgement on a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the beef ban in Maharashtra.
However, one can possess beef brought from outside the state of Maharashtra.
A ban on cow and bullock slaughtering to continue but beef possession (if brought from outside Maharashtra) is not a criminal offence, ruled the HC, according to newsagency ANI.
A division bench of Justices A S Oka and S C Gupte had reserved the ruling in January after hearing the arguments.
In February 2015, the President granted assent to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act. While the original 1976 Act banned slaughter of cows, the amendment prohibited, in addition, slaughter of bulls and bullocks and possession and consumption of their meat.
As per the Act, slaughter attracts a five-year jail-term and Rs 10,000 fine while possession of meat of bull or bullock attracts one-year in jail and Rs 2,000 fine.
During the hearing, the HC had refused to grant interim stay to the provisions penalising the possession of beef.
Arif Kapadia, a city resident, and noted lawyer Harish Jagtiani have 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 contend.
Other petitions have been filed by Vishal Sheth, a lawyer, and Shaina Sen, a student, contending that the ban on beef violates fundamental rights of citizens.
(With additional information from PTI)