Right to choose food is part of right to personal liberty and privacy: Cattle Slaughter Ordinance challenged before Karnataka High Court

The Governor of Karnataka gave his assent to the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance on January 5, 2021.
Right to choose food is part of right to personal liberty and privacy: Cattle Slaughter Ordinance challenged before Karnataka High Court
Cattle Slaughter

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday sought the response of the State government in a plea seeking to quash the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Ordinance, 2020.

The Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice SS Magadum issued notice in the matter. During today's hearing, the Bench was informed by petitioner Mohammed Arif Jameel that one of the provisions of the said Ordinance even penalizes a farmer who takes his cattle to farm in another village.

On this aspect, Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi sought time to address the Bench.

The plea states,

"It is submitted that the right to choose food (Non vegetarian or vegetarian) is a part of the right to personal liberty, conscience, and privacy. By imposing a ban on the slaughter of animals for food, the citizens with a choice to eat the flesh of such animals would be deprived of such food, which violates the right to food, privacy and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21of the Constitution of India."

The Governor of Karnataka gave his assent to the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance on January 5, 2021.

Cattle Slaughter
Karnataka Cattle Slaughter Ordinance promulgated by Governor [Read Ordinance]

Section 4 of the ordinance prohibits the slaughter of cattle, defined as "cow, calf of a cow and bull, bullock and he or she buffalo below the age of thirteen years".

Conviction under Section 4 invites imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than seven years and/or fine of not less than Rs. 50,000 for each cattle, which can be extended to Rs. 5 lakh.

For subsequent offences, the fine is not less than Rs 1 lakh and can be extended to Rs. 10 lakh.

For contravention of provisions other than Section 4, the prison term is three to five years, and the fine is not less than Rs. 50,000 and can extend to Rs. 5 lakh.

The petitioner has challenged the Ordinance on the ground that the right to freedom of worship and right to freedom of trade and occupation has been violated. It is further contended that 'the total ban' was not good for the general public.

"It is submitted that complete ban of sale or purchase or resale of Animals would cast a huge economic burden on the farmers, cattle, traders who find it difficult to feed their children today but would be required to feed the cattle as it is an offence under the Prevention of cruelty to Animals Act, 1960."

The petition further claims that cow vigilantes will now begin to harass farmers and cattle traders under the blessing of the impugned Ordinance.

It was further contended that an absolute ban on slaughtering animals will directly affected the employment of butchers and their trade.

On these grounds, the plea prays for the quashing the State Ordinance promulgated on January 5.

The matter will be next heard on January 18.

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