New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking a blanket ban on cow slaughter across all states, saying it was up to the state governments to decide and the court will not interfere with the state laws.

“One state may ban slaughter, the other may not… we will not interfere in state laws,” the Bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice NV Ramana said, rejecting the plea by one Vineet Sahai for a uniform policy on the cow slaughter made on the ground that of rampant smuggling of the cattle from the states where slaughter is banned to those permitting it.

The court told him that it has already passed orders on measures to stop the illegal inter-state transportation of the cattle.

Another cow slaughter case is listed for hearing before the apex court on Monday. It relates to the Akhil Bharat Krishi Goseva Sangh versus Maharashtra Government and 36 beef dealer associations through Aslam Malkani versus Maharashtra Government challenging the constitutional validity of the state’s Animals Preservation (Amendment) Act that bans the slaughter, possession, consumption and import of beef in the state.

The petitioners want the court to permit the slaughter of cattle – bulls and bullocks, not cows – of more than 16 years of age, since at that age they are too old to be useful for farming or any other activities. Last May, the Bombay High Court upheld the ban on slaughter, while making it clear that mere possession of beef of animals slaughtered outside the state cannot invite criminal action.

Last week, the SC had stayed the July 2016 judgment of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, which directed the Centre to enact a law prohibiting cow slaughter.

Slaughter of cows has been a contentious issue in India for long, with many right-wing groups calling for a total ban on it. Across the country, a number of states have some or the other ban or restrictions on cow slaughter.

Only in a few states, or to be specific in Kerala, West Bengal, Arunachal, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim, and Mizoram, slaughter is allowed. In other states, there is either a blanket ban or some kind of restrictions on cow slaughter.

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