Justice Indu Malhotra recuses herself from beef case

Justice Malhotra, who was part of the Bench led by Justice A.M. Sapre, said she had appeared as a lawyer in the case.

Supreme Court judge, Justice Indu Malhotra, on Monday recused herself from hearing a clutch of petitions and cross-petitions challenging a Bombay High Court order on possession, storage and consumption of beef brought into Maharashtra from other States.

Justice Malhotra, who was part of the Bench led by Justice A.M. Sapre, said she had appeared as a lawyer in the case.

Justice Sapre ordered the case to be put up before the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to be referred to an appropriate Bench.

In May, 2016, the High Court upheld the ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks imposed by the State government while decriminalising the storage and possession of beef brought from outside.

Now, the appropriate bench would decide on the plea of senior advocate Indira Jaising for referring the entire matter to a Constitution Bench. Ms. Jaising represents 30 individuals from Maharashtra, led by activist Swatija Paranjpe, who have demanded the lifting of the ban on beef and “decriminalisation of food habits.”

The government had filed a plea challenging the High Court order to decriminalise possession of beef if brought from outside the State. It sought a revival of the law. It said the statutory restriction imposed on possession of flesh of cow, bull or bullock could not be interpreted as an infringement of the “right to privacy.”

The High Court had upheld the slaughter of bulls and bullocks, cows imposed by the government through the enactment of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act in 2015. However, it pointed out that mere possession of cattle meat cannot invite criminal action.

Source: The Hindu

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