Mumbai, Apr 29: The Bombay High Court today declined to stay provisions of a recent Maharashtra law which prohibits possession, transportation and consumption of meat of cow, bulls and bullocks even if the animals have been slaughtered outside Maharashtra.
The Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, enforced last month by the state government, bans slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks and also consumption and possession of their meat.
Three petitions were filed challenging Sections 5(d) and 9(a) of the Act which prohibits possession, transportation and consumption of meat of cow, bulls and bullocks even if the animals have been slaughtered outside Maharashtra.
According to the petitions, this puts a ban on import of meat. The petitions sought a stay on these sections.
In another development, the court directed the state not to take any coercive action till pendency of petitions or three months against traders who have been found in possession or transportation of beef.
"This is because the Act had been introduced suddenly and reasonable time was not given to the traders to dispose of their products," said the Judges.
However, FIRs can be registered against such traders but no further action can be taken until the petitions are decided finally or three months whichever is earlier, the court said.
The court also clarified that since ban on beef continues in the State under the Act, FIRs can be registered against slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks.
As a note of caution, the Court also said that the state shall not intrude on the privacy of citizens to find out if they are in possession of beef or any other form of meat.
The court clarified that no blanket stay can be imposed on the provisions of the Act which ban transportation or possession of beef, though FIR can be registered against the offenders under the Act.