Srinagar, September 17: A notice seeking reply to a written petition challenging the cow slaughter Act in the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) has been issued to Mufti led PDP-BJP coalition government by the state High Court. The court was hearing a writ petition challenging the constitutional validity of the ban, and has asked the state to file its response within one week.
The PIL challenging the constitutional validity of RPC sections 298-A and 298-B, which regulate the ban on bovine slaughter and beef sale in Jammu and Kashmir was filed by a retired law professor Afzal Qadri. According to this, killing of bovine animals is a punishable offence under section 298-A while section 298-B makes “possession of any slaughtered animal” a punishable act in the state.
While dealing with a public interest litigation seeking implementation of the Sections 298-A and 298-B, a division bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal at the Jammu wing of the J&K High Court had on September 9 cited this 150-year-old law and asked the state police to strictly enforce the ban on sale of beef across the state, leading to widespread opposition.
Terming the section unconstitutional, the Petition argued that it is the responsibility of state government to delete the said provisions from the Ranbir Penal Code on account of being directly in conflict with the fundamental rights of the people of the state. Before admitting the petition, the Bench during the course of the arguments by the counsel for petitioner raised queries with respect to the presumption of the constitutional validity and necessity, and intent of such a legislation.
Meanwhile, a division Bench of Justice Muhammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice Bansi Lal Bhat said in its orders that one section (Hindus) of the society seeks a ban on bovine slaughter for it being “sacred” where as the other (Muslims) opposes it arguing no court could ban food.
“The government has to file its reply within one week, whether they support the ban or accept that ban is against fundamental rights of people,” said Advocate Faisal Qadri, lawyer of the petitioner.