The Supreme Court has temporarily suspended a judicial order enforcing the ban on the sale of beef in Jammu and Kashmir. The ban was imposed by J&K High Court’s Jammu bench on September 8, directing the state police to enforce the provision under the Ranbir Penal Code (criminal code in the Jammu and Kashmir) barring sale of beef in the state. The Mufti Sayeed government had last week approached the apex court after two conflicting orders from the High Court. While, the Jammu bench had ordered the enforcement of the ban, the Srinagar bench, on the other hand, had agreed to hear a separate plea seeking scrapping of the provision that bars slaughter of bovine animals.
The state witnessed several instances of protest after the High Court order, even inside the Legislative Assembly.
Hearing the plea on Monday, the bench led by Chief Justice HL Dattu directed that the order of the Jammu bench of the High Court be kept in abeyance for two months. The apex court also asked the Chief Justice of J&K High Court to set up a three-judge bench to resolve the issue.
“Since there are conflicting expressions given by two division benches of the high court, we request the learned Chief Justice to constitute a bench of three learned judges to take a decision on the writ petitions,” the Supreme Court bench of CJI Dattu ordered.
Earlier last week, the state government, in its plea had contended, “Vide impugned orders of Jammu & Srinagar Benches of the J&K High Court… have passed two mutually conflicting orders which have grave ramifications for the law and order situation in the State of Jammu and Kashmir as orders are being misused and interpreted in a manner so as to disturb peaceful fabric of the State.”
“The apex court should ensure there is uniformity and consistency in judicial pronouncements and no scope to exploit the present situation by disrupting communal harmony, amity and peace in the state and thereto alienating people of the State from national mainstream,” the state government had argued further in its plea.
Even as the plea was heard at the top court in the national capital New Delhi, the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly witnessed fresh round of protest over the issue with the opposition MLAs belonging to the Congress party and National Conference (JKNC) raising slogans and holding small banners.
Raising the issue, former CM and National Conference top leader Omar Abdullah questioned the BJP-PDP government on their decision to move the Supreme Court. Mr. Abdullah claimed that the state legislature itself is “free” to scrap the 1932 provision in the Ranbir Penal Code prohibiting cow slaughter.
“Today, unfortunately, our protest was against the dictatorial practices of the Speaker. Why is this Chief Minister so keen to not only disempower himself put also the legislature,” the former Chief Minister told press pack outside the state assembly.
The protesting members of NC and Congress were were joined by independent MLAs Shiekh Abdul Rashid and Hakim Mohammad Yasin as they slogans against the beef ban terming it as an “interference in religious matters”.
(With inputs from the PTI)