NEW DELHI: The Indian Supreme Court on Monday suspended the ban on cow slaughter and sale of beef in India-held Kashmir for two months, Indian media reported.
A bench comprising Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Chief Justice Amitava Roy directed the India-held Kashmir high court chief justice to constitute a three-judge bench to “resolve” the issue in view of “conflicting” orders issued by two coordinate high court benches.
The India-held Kashmir high court bench had on Sept 8 ordered enforcement of the beef ban in the state in accordance with the Ranbir Penal Code, while the Srinagar bench on Sept 16 entertained a Public Interest Legislation (PIL) against the ban and sought explanations from the government on validity of such legal provisions.
A three-member bench will be constituted at Srinagar and both cases with the two “conflicting” orders will be placed before it, the court stated.
“We have two conflicting orders and it is required to be resolved by the chief justice of the high court by constituting a three-judge bench. This type of matter requires a larger bench. We request the chief justice to constitute such a bench to take a decision on the two petitions,” the bench said, while keeping in abeyance the order imposing ban.
The bench dropped the petition filed by the state’s government and asked it to raise all the controversies before the high court.
As senior advocates Colin Gonsalves and Bhim Singh pointed out that the issue has been raised in the state assembly as well, the court observed: “The legislature can substitute the law and remove the provisions if it desires so.”
The cow is a sacred animal for the majority Hindu population in India which is regarded as a stronghold of vegetarianism. It is mainly for this reason that the Indian government imposed a ban on beef.
The ban was sought by hardline Hindus and is seen by religious minorities as a sign of their growing power since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a landslide general election last year.
Beef traders are trying to find a legal way around this ban as it will not only impact their income but also that of farmers.
India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vowed on Monday to ban cow slaughter in the state of Bihar if it wins the upcoming assembly elections, Indian media reported.
Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi tweeted in Hindi: “We will ban cow slaughter if we form the government in Bihar.”
He said Modi had saved the lives of thousands of cows by stopping cross-border smuggling of livestock, adding that the BJP would improve the cows’ quality of life.