SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir High Court today gave a week's time to the state government to file its response to a writ petition seeking to strike down the Constitutional provisions criminalising bovine slaughter in the state.
The notice was issued by a division bench comprising justices Mohammad Yaqoub Mir and Bhansi Lal Bhat after hearing a writ petition filed by Afzal Qadri through his advocate Syed Faisal Qadri seeking to strike down the relevant provisions of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) which criminalises the slaughter of bovines.
"The court admitted the petition and gave a week's time to the government to file its response," Faisal Qadri told PTI. He said the court also ruled that the petition would not be a bar in case the legislature seeks to amend or repeal the said provisions of RPC.
Qadri said he challenged the provisions incorporated under Chapter 15 of the RPC in the form of Sections 298-A, 298-B, 298-C and 298-D on the grounds that they are ultra vires to Section 14, 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution of India as well as the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.
In his petition, Qadri said, the said 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 of the Constitution. Furthermore, the said provisions curtail and criminalise the right to profess and propagate ones religion, which otherwise is a fundamental right," he said.
The petitioner said the said provisions have no nexus with the Article 48 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.
Last week, a division bench of High Court in Jammu ordered the police to strictly enforce the 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".