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

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The Right to Choice of Food

Shaping Privacy Jurisprudence

The Supreme Court’s judgment in the Puttaswamy case has been hailed for the position of law that it espouses: that the Constitution recognises a fundamental right to privacy. But, its legacy will depend on how future benches apply its findings. One of the cases where the verdict is likely to make an impact is a case concerning the validity of a Maharashtra law that virtually bans the consumption of beef in the state.

The Supreme Court in K Puttaswamy v Union of India (2017a) unanimously declared that the Indian Constitution recognises a fundamental right to privacy. This verdict might have emanated out of the larger challenge to the Aadhaar scheme, which remains pending adjudication, but, as has already been noted by many, the impact of the judgment rendered is likely to be far more extensive (Kumar 2017; Sheikh 2017; Kannabiran 2017). The rationale of the Court’s conclusions could well touch areas that we might not intuitively consider as flowing from a guarantee of privacy.

One such area of controversy concerns the imposition of bans on the consumption of beef. The Supreme Court, as it happens, is presently seized of an appeal over the Bombay High Court’s judgment in Shaikh Zahid Mukthar v State of Maharashtra (2017), in which the high court had struck down Section 5D of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976. This provision imposed a prohibition on the mere retention in one’s possession of the flesh of any cow, bull or bullock slaughtered outside Maharashtra, executing thereby a virtual ban on the consumption of beef. The Bombay High Court ruled that the law places an unreasonable restriction on a person’s privacy, impinging deeply on the autonomy of individuals to decide for themselves how they want to lead their lives.

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Updated On : 27th Dec, 2017
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