A division bench of justices A S Oka and V L Achliya, hearing a batch of petitions seeking relaxation on the ban on slaughter and sale of meat of bulls from September 25 to 27 on the occasion of Bakri Eid, declined to grant any interim relief to the Maharashtra Act by which the ban was imposed.

"We are not inclined to grant any drastic interim relief at this stage which would amount to a stay on section 5 of the Maharashtra Preservation of Animals (Amendment) Act," the court said.

"Can interim relief be granted on the state government's statutory power? If there was power of relaxation under the Act we would have asked the state government to consider it. How do we grant relief without staying the statutory provision," the court queried.

The court refused to accept the petitioners' contention that slaughter of animals and their sacrifice forms an essential part of the Muslim community's religious practice. Advocates Gayatri Singh and Ejaz Naqvi, appearing for the petitioners, argued that slaughter of animals is a crucial part of the Muslim community's religious practice to sacrifice.

"The state government issued a circular banning slaughter of animals and sale of mutton and chicken for two days during the Jain community's festival of Prayushan. Why cannot it (government) issue a circular relaxing the ban on beef for the Muslim community," Naqvi argued. The court said the matter can be dealt with only after a detailed affidavit is filed by all the respondents and posted it for final hearing on October 12.

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