Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday refused to direct the state government to provide 3-day exemption during the Eid al Adha for the slaughter of bulls and bullocks saying it is the purview of the state to take a decision on such matters.
The court's refusal to provide temporary relief came during the hearing of a petition by various groups to relax the ban on beef for three days during Eid al Adha to be celebrated on September 25, which involves the sacrifice of calves and bulls.
A bench headed by Justice Abhay S Oak said it could not take a drastic decision of staying the provisions of the law that will temporarily lift the ban.
“We are not inclined to grant any drastic interim relief at this stage which would amount to a stay on section 5 of the Maharashtra Preservation of Animals (Amendment) Act,” the court said.
“Can interim relief be granted on the state government’s statutory power? If there was power of relaxation under the Act we would have asked the state government to consider it. How do we grant relief without staying the statutory provision,” the court queried.
In March, the Maharashtra government had banned the slaughter of bulls and calves in the state, where cow slaughter was already illegal since 1976. It also made possession, transportation and consumption of beef a punishable offence.
According to the petitioners Aslam Alamgir Malkani and Ishaque Abdul Aziz Shaikh, the Act violates articles 25 (freedom of religion), 26 (freedom to manage religious affairs) and 29 (protection of interests of minorities) of the Constitution.
The other petition, filed by Huzaifa Electricwala, also challenges the Act and seeks a similar relief.
Advocates Gayatri Singh and Ejaz Naqvi, appearing for the petitioners, argued that slaughter of animals is a crucial part of the Muslim community’s religious practice to sacrifice.
“The state government issued a circular banning slaughter of animals and sale of mutton and chicken for two days during the Jain community’s festival of Prayushan. Why cannot it (government) issue a circular relaxing the ban on beef for the Muslim community,” Naqvi argued.
The court said the matter can be dealt with only after a detailed affidavit is filed by all the respondents and posted it for final hearing on October 12.