Mumbai : (Agency)  The Bombay high court on Friday scheduled the hearing of the challenge to Maharashtra government's beef ban law on August 19, 2015.A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice Burgess Colabawalla said that the court would hear the petitions in two batches. The first batch will comprise petitions challenging section 5D of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act - that makes the import and possession of beef a crime. This will be heard on August 19. Subsequently, the HC will take up the petitions that challenge the Constitutional validity of the entire law.The Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act was sanctioned by the President in February 2015 and notified in March by the state government. The law bans the slaughter of bulls and bullock, along with the earlier ban on slaughter of cows.
Anyone found to be selling beef or in possession of beef can be jailed for five years and fined Rs 10,000. Section 5 D makes it a criminal and cognisable offence to possess beef, even if the animal is slaughtered outside Maharashtra where it is legally permissible, punishable with a jail term of up to one year.Earlier this year in April, the HC had refused to grant an interim stay on section 5D but directed the state and the police authorities not to take coercive steps for three months for possession of the meat. While petitioners had claimed that the ban violated their fundamental right to life and eat food of their choice, the state had argued that there was no fundametal right to eat beef and it had enacted the law to protect cow and its progeny.
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