New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India has dismissed as withdrawn the special leave petitions filed by the J&K government following High Court’s full bench order last year in which it vacated “conflicting” orders by its division bench on sale of beef in the state.
“Counsel for the petitioner (J&K government) seeks leave to withdraw these petitions. The special leave petitions are dismissed as withdrawn,” said a bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit.
The state had contended that the two conflicting orders have grave ramifications for the law and order. In one of the two orders, the High Court had, on September 17, sought state’s response on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a retired law professor Afzal Qadri, in which he had challenged the constitutional validity of RPC sections 298-A and 298-B that regulate the ban on bovine slaughter and beef sale in the state.
While section 298-A of the RPC makes killing of bovine animals a punishable offence, the 298-B makes “possession of any slaughtered animal” a punishable act.
On September 8, a division bench of the High Court had ordered the government to strictly enforce the Dogra-era law which criminalises the slaughter of bovines and sale of beef in the state.
On directions of the apex court, the chief justice of the state constituted a full bench, which decided both the petitions in October last year with a direction to the government to revisit the laws that create a wedge between different sections of society and have a potential to disturb peace, observing that they may not be just and valid.
The full bench comprising Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar, Ali Mohammad Magrey and Tashi Rabstan also observed that certain laws, framed to tackle a particular situation, cease to be operational when the purpose is achieved.
“Some laws though in existence with the passage of time have lost their efficacy and utility and have ceased to be operational. Similarly certain laws created to achieve a definite purpose, or to serve the ends of an autocratic monarch, or a section of people, have after coming into force of constitution become obsolete, redundant, or, are an offence to it. Remaining of such laws on the statute book would be inconsequential and are incapable of enforcement, having assumed the character of fossils,” the court said.
In the 25-page judgment rendered in the very first hearing of the case, the full bench had underlined importance of respecting religious sentiments by various communities and need for executive and legislative wing of the state to take a fresh look to some laws when they “violate the guaranteed constitutional right of large section of society, or have become dead laws, or have not been consciously enforced by executive wing of State for a considerable period of time.”
The full bench accordingly disposed both petitions—PIL filed by a lawyer Parimoksh Seth before Jammu wing in 2014 for strict implementation of the archaic law on bovines and the petition by retired Professor S M Afzal Qadri for abrogation of legislation.