Decision On Beef Bills After SC Ruling: Speaker

3 October 2015
Rising Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: What could raise the tempers in the State Assembly, Speaker Kavinder Gupta Saturday said that he would first go through the Supreme Court ruling on the beef ban issue and only then take a call on the bills seeking lifting of the ban in J&K. The case is listed before the apex court on October 5. 'The issue became sensitive after the (High Court) division benches of Srinagar and Jammu expressed different opinions over the issue. This became the reason for the J&K government to submit the plea before the Supreme Court seeking end to the prevailing confusion over the issue,' the Speaker told Greater Kashmir in an exclusive interview. Gupta said he has received three bills on the issue -by Independent Legislator Er Sheikh Abdur Rashid, National Conference and from CPI (M) Legislator M Y Tarigami. All the three bills seek repealing of the clauses of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) that ban sale and consumption of beef in J&K. 'So far I have not taken decision on it. The bills are listed for business on October 8,' he said. 'My priority is not to annoy anyone and to accommodate all. But I won't rush to things until something clear comes from the apex court,' said Gupta, who is BJP legislator from Gandhinagar, Jammu. He said though PDP and BJP have ideological differences, but the government was formed after hectic deliberations for three months. 'The government was formed with development of J&K its sole agenda. We decided to shelve all the controversial issues be that Article 370 or anything else,' he said. The Speaker said that Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed has directed both PDP and BJP leaders 'to avoid all controversial issues in the larger interests of the government and people.' On how would he treat the bills seeking lifting of ban on beef, he said: 'The government has requested the Supreme Court to clear the confusion on the two different directions passed by Srinagar and Jammu High Courts. I will wait for Supreme Court directions first and then decide my course.' About the functioning of the PDP-BJP coalition, Gupta said that all the ministers of both the parties are working under close coordination. 'Take it from me that the government will complete its full term,' he said. Reliable sources within the government said that the bills related to beef ban would be put at the end of the list on October 8 or the Speaker would inform the House that 'the bills can't be entertained as the matter was sub-judice.' 'There are 14 bills that stand submitted to the Speaker and all are listed for the same day,' a source said. On September 8, a division bench of High Court in Jammu directed the police to enforce the provision under the RPC banning sale of beef in the State. The Srinagar bench entertained a PIL against the ban and sought explanations from the government. Pertinently, S M Afzal Qadri, a former professor of Kashmir University's Law Department, had approached the High Court though his counsel with the plea that Section 298-A, 298-B, 298-C and 298-D of the RPC be declared as ultra-vires to the Constitution of India as well as to Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and be struck down from the Code forthwith. Under Section 298-A of RPC whoever voluntarily slaughters or kills any bovine animal such as ox, bull, cow or calf, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to 10 years and under section 298-B, whoever keeps in his possession flesh of any slaughtered animal mentioned in section 298-A shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to one year and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to Rs 500. Under Section 298-C of RPC, whoever voluntarily slaughters or kills any he or she buffalo shall be punished with fine which may extend to five times the price of the animal killed or slaughtered as determined by the Court.