Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court today sought a response from the state government to a writ petition seeking striking down of the Constitutional provisions criminalising bovine slaughter in the state.
The notice was issued by a division bench comprising justices Mohammad Yaqoub Mir and Ali Mohammad Magray after hearing a writ petition filed by Afzal Qadri through his advocate Syed Faisal Qadri seeking to strike down the relevant provisions of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) which criminalises the slaughter of bovines.
Advocate General Jehangir Iqbal, appearing on behalf of the government, sought three weeks time from the court to file the response, which the court granted.
The court had on September 16 issued a notice to the state government over the petition and had given a time frame of one week to file the response.
The court has also ruled that the petition would not be a bar in case the state legislature seeks to amend or repeal the relevant provisions of RPC.
A division bench of the High Court in Jammu had on September 9 ordered the police to strictly enforce beef ban in the state.
The court order triggered angry reactions in the Valley with the separatist and religious groups terming it as "interference in religious affairs".
Qadri, in his petition, has challenged the provisions incorporated under Chapter 15 of RPC in the form of Sections 298-A, 298-B, 298-C and 298-D on the grounds that they are ultra vires to Articles 14 (Equality before law), 21 (Protection of life and property), 25 (Freedom of practicing religion) and 29 (Protection of interest of minorities) of the Constitution of India as well as the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.
Qadri said the provisions have a direct interference with the personal liberty of the petitioner in as much as it allows an intrusion into the religious as well as private life.
"The said provisions are further excessive in nature apart from being discriminatory and prejudicial to the rights guaranteed to the petitioner under Article 14 (protection of life and property) of the Constitution. Furthermore, the said provisions curtail and criminalise the right to profess and propagate ones religion, which otherwise is a fundamental right," the petition says.
The petitioner has said that the provisions have no nexus with the Article 48 (organization of animal husbandry) of the Constitution and therefore cannot be a basis to criminalise an act of a citizen which otherwise is provided to him by the divine law of nature in the nature of his religious practices and rituals.