Shajeeda O.M Tajdeen, LLM, S.N.D.T University
The Apex Court on Friday declared that ‘right to privacy’ to be a part of the Fundamental right and it also stated that being a fundamental right it would definitely have ‘some bearing’ on other matters such as Adhar, LGBT community and also on ‘beef ban’ in Maharashtra. In its landmark judgement the Apex Court has widened the scope of Article 21, which deals with the ‘right to personal life and liberty.’ By bringing ‘right to privacy’ within the purview of Article 21, the Supreme Court has tried to reach many aspects such as right to eat, right to dress etc. which play a crucial role in a citizen’s life. Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, had informed a two judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Jusitce AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan that the judgment of the Apex Court in which the largest Constitutional Bench expanded the scope of Article 21, by bringing within its ambit the right to privacy, would definitely be important in adjudicating the appeal pertaining to beef ban. She also stated that the right to eat is a matter of personal choice and it now falls within the limits of right to privacy and thus, it should be protected under the same. The matter of beef ban was referred to the Apex Court after it declared that ‘right to privacy’ is a fundamental right and during pronouncing this verdict the Court had mentioned that ‘nobody would like to be told what to eat or how to dress’ as these activities come within the arena of right to privacy. After hearing the submissions, the bench has posted the matter after two weeks.
The Apex Court was initially moved by the Maharashtra Government on 10th August 2017, wherein it had challenged the Bombay High Court’s verdict of 6th May 2016, in which Section 5(d) and 9(b) of the Maharashtra Animals Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995 were struck down. The above mentioned sections dealt with criminalising and imposing punishment on person’s who were found in possession of beef of animals, whether they were slaughtered in or outside the State, stating that such an act was infringing upon one’s ‘right to privacy.’ In its verdict the High Court stated that the provisions of the Maharashtra Animals Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995, which declared mere possessing beef as a crime are purely ‘unconstitutional’ in nature and made only ‘conscious possession’ an offence, it also upheld the ban imposed by the Maharashtra Government on the slaughter of bulls and bullocks. Section 5(d) if revived will make possessing beef at home an offence, and it would also legally allow the police to conduct searches if they suspect a person carrying cattle meat, be it of cow, bull or bullocks.
The concept of beef ban is being imposed under various State laws, but still one can freely approach the Court stating that the such a ban infringes the right to privacy as the right to choose one’s food forms the part of the former right.
Advocate Jaising, had requested the Apex Court reconsider its judgement of 2005, wherein a complete restriction was imposed on the slaughter of cattle within the state. The Maharashtra Animals Preservation (Amendment) Act, would be the first legislation that shall be tested on the plank of right to privacy by the Apex Court. It is to be seen that how right to privacy shall cater to the citizen’s choice of food in the country and especially in Maharashtra. After pronouncing landmark verdicts in the matters of triple talaq and right to privacy, the Apex Court is all set to follow its trend of pronouncing precedential judgement in this matter.