article 19(1)(g) vs Article 48 of constitution of india

Article 19(1)(g) guarantees the fundamental right to freedom of trade, occupation, profession or business whereas Article 48 guarantees organization of agriculture and animal husbandry. Cow slaughter finds a special mention in the Constitution of India under this article. It can be seen that this article was inserted in the Constitution merely, from the point of view of economic provisions and not to hurt or reflect or even convey any idea regarding the religious sentiments and motivation of the individual. The two articles, namely 19(1)(g) and 48 of the Constitution of India, seem to be in contravention to one another as one allows an individual to choose their occupation while the other, prohibits slaughter of cows, draught cattle, calves, and other milch cattle and this can be a restriction to the occupation of butchers or the individual involved with such activities.

In the case of Mohd. Hanif Quareshi v. State of Bihar[1], the court had the occasion to consider the validity of the ban on slaughter of certain animals including cows. “It was held that a total ban on the slaughter of she-buffaloes, bulls and bullocks without prescribing any test or requirement as to their age or usefulness offended Article 19(1)(g) as the prohibition of their slaughter after they cease to be capable of yielding milk or breeding purposes or working as draught animals could not be supported as ‘reasonable in the interest of general public.” The Supreme Court has observed that the directive principles of state policy cannot override the Fundamental rights. It is to be observed that the judiciary has always favoured the Fundamental rights whenever, both have been in conflict with one another.

In the case of Kesavananda Bharti v. State of Kerala[2], “it was held that as Article 19, being a fundamental right and Article 48, being a directive principle of state policy are complementary and supplementary to each other in the establishment of a welfare state.”

In the case of State of Gujarat v. Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab Jammat,[3] the court overruled the use of the term “useless” in describing the animals and stated that the “usefulness of an animals would be dependent on its economic significance and if any animal has economic significance, then it would be the duty of the State to protect the said animal.” The court also clarified that prohibition of slaughter of cows is not violative of Article 19(1)(g), as it gives the butchers the freedom to slaughter and sell those animals which were not protected under law.

By virtue of Entry 15 of the State List under the 7th schedule of the Constitution, the state legislatures have been given the power to make laws regarding the conservation of cattle which included prevention of cow slaughter. Thus, in India different legislations have their own legislation which deals with cow slaughter.

Thus, it can be concluded that the classification under Article 48 of the Constitution is reasonable and was inserted in the Constitution from the economic point of view and not to hurt the sentiments of people or to restrict freedom to trade, occupation and business and thus, maintaining the secular nature. Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava remarked:

“I do not want that, due to its (Article 48) inclusion in the Fundamental Rights, non-Hindus should complain that they have been forced to accept something that is against their will.”[4]


[1] Mohd. Hanif Quareshi v. State of Bihar, 1958 AIR 731

[2] Kesavananda Bharti v. State of Kerala, AIR 1973 SC 1461

[3] State of Gujarat v. Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab Jammat, AIR 1998 Guj 220

[4] Constituent Assembly Debates vol 7 (n 2).

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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