A Mumbai court, India on Friday struck down a tough law that had banned the consumption of beef in Maharashtra.
Last year, Maharashtra made the sale or possession of beef an offence punishable by a five-year jail term or a 10,000-rupee ($150) fine.
It was one of the strictest such laws in India, where several states ban the slaughter of cows.
However the Bombay High Court said it was no longer illegal to possess or eat beef, as long as it had been brought into Maharashtra from outside.
But it upheld the part of the law, introduced in March 2015, that had extended a 1976 ban on slaughtering cows to cover bulls and bullocks, according to the ruling published on the court’s website.
“The court has struck down that provision which says that the consumption of beef is illegal in Maharashtra,” Harish Jagtiani, a prominent lawyer told AFP.
Harish was one of several petitioners who had asked the court to overturn the ban on consumption, saying that it infringed upon their right to privacy as protected in India’s constitution.
“They’ve struck down the provision that bans the import of beef into Maharashtra for the purpose of consumption and trade. Those bans have been declared to be unconstitutional,” he added.
Restaurants will now be allowed to sell imported beef again, Mr Jagtiani said, adding that the court had ruled in favour of people’s right to eat the food they want, “wherever they want”.
“We’re thrilled. It’s a total vindication,” he said.
While the slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks remains illegal in Maharashtra, the slaughtering of water buffalo remains permissible.
Friday’s ruling, which came after the court heard a number of petitions against the legal amendment, made no concessions to those in the slaughter trade.
The decision caught the attention of social media with opinion predictably divided on Twitter.
“Best news I’ve heard in a while — #beef partially back in Bombay,” wrote Nakalu Naneeto.
“So you can’t slaughter a cow in Maharashtra, but you can do it outside and eat it here? And no one finds this hypocritical or absurd?” posted Lindsay Pereira.