ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Holy Cow, Privacy, and Unholy Laws

The impact of the privacy judgment on the constitutionality of the so-called beef statutes is examined through the critique of earlier judgments of the apex court, demonstrating how unscientific and unauthentic information became the basis of these judgments and how a selective approach was adopted in applying directive principles and fundamental duties over fundamental rights. With privacy as a fundamental right, it is no more an issue of just the butcher’s right to trade, but a question of an individual’s choice of food. 

The Indian Constitution, being a living document, was written in a social context that has seen tremendous change alongside a rapidly developing India. Mindful of this social progress, the Supreme Court has finally explicitly recognised privacy as a fundamental right in K Puttaswamy v Union of India (2017a). The judgment will have some bearing on the laws enacted by 20 Indian states in furtherance of the policy laid down in Article 48 of the Constitution, that is, to prohibit the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and draught cattle.

Justice D Y Chandrachud in discussing the evolution of the privacy doctrine in India does mention Hinsa Virodhak Sangh v Mirzapur Moti Kuresh Jamat and Ors (2008: para 22), where the Supreme Court had specifically held that what one eats is one’s personal affair and it is a part of privacy under Article 21. He also mentions “food habits” in his description of informational privacy and its nature of personality (K Puttaswamy v Union of India 2017b: para 170). Justice J Chelameswar has also made the following observation in his concurring judgment:

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Updated On : 27th Dec, 2017

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