Holy Cow: The Legal Position


Beef ban- A constitutionally legitimate measure or a Saffronite conspiracy?

The imposition of restrictions on consumption of beef has been viewed as an unconstitutional measure and a threat to the secularity of India. It has been falsely implicated as the cause for the creation of an atmosphere which has caused lynchings, murder and other heinous crimes against certain sects of society. This misconception has forced people to question the constitutional legitimacy of the ban.


However, Article 48 of the Constitution of India says-

“The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.”


The restriction on consumption of beef is supported by the fact that this article mandates the state to prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle. It is the state’s duty to preserve and improve breeds of cattle. Any measure taken by the government to protect the cattle is in accordance with its stated duties and thus justified.


Article 37 of the constitution of India recognizes directive principles as “fundamentals in the governance of the country” and obligates the State to apply these principles in making laws. The creation of laws to ban the slaughter of beef is thus in compliance with the fundamental principles of governance and is legally justified.


Those opposing beef bans have often quoted Article 19 of the Indian constitution to question its constitutional validity. Article 19(1)(g) entitles a citizen of the country to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. However, it is evident that a ban on beef would not act as a hindrance to the practice of any occupation as a person can continue to trade other forms of meat.


A careful inspection of these facts would make it evident that the ban on beef is constitutionally justified. The trade and slaughter of beef are illegal. Hence, those who violate this law will be punished through a legal procedure, just like those found in possession of smuggled goods or unlicensed weapons.


Is it justified to lynch or murder someone found in possession of banned goods or suspected of possessing it? Is it justified to kill someone for smuggling goods?


Multiple incidents across India have involved mob lynchings and violence against minorities on the pretext of possession of beef or smuggling of cattle. There is a popular misconception that the constitutional stand on beef is responsible for such occurrences. However, it is important to note that the real issue is the mindset of the people.

The fundamentally flawed ideology – based on misinformed perspectives – of people who orchestrate such crimes is the main cause.


Hence, it is necessary to bring about a change in the mindset of the people to accept the constitutionally legitimate ban and follow legal procedure. The beef lynchings are illegitimate. They are criminal acts of people with the intent to cause harm to particular sections of society. Such acts must be condemned and a legal approach to punish them must be adopted.


Hence, the dubbing of this ban as a “saffronite conspiracy” is logically flawed. Altering the law would amount to condoning murder and lynching.


By: Akarsh G Shroff

Disclaimer: This blog is a reflection of the writer’s opinion and views about this issue.

BITSMUN Pilani does not support or believe in supporting either faction in this legal battle.

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