Maharashtra Meat Ban: Bombay High Court Asks Government To Explain Difference Between Fish And Mutton

11/09/2015 6:03 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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MUMBAI, INDIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Shopkeeper seen sitting idle at Crawford meat market on the first day of a four-day ban on the sale of meat on the occasion of Jain holy festival of Paryushan on September 10, 2015 in Mumbai, India. Earlier this week, the BMC imposed a ban on sale of meat on four days of the Paryushan festival, while the adjoining Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation in Thane had declared a complete ban during September 11-18. (Photo by Arijit Sen/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

NEW DELHI -- After being severely chastised by the Bombay High Court for ordering a ban on the sale of meat for four days in

Maharashtra, the state government reduced the prohibition from four to two days.

In response to a petition filed by the Bombay Mutton Dealers’ Association, the Bombay High Court said the order, which prohibited the sale of meat in the state for four days during Jain festival of Paryushan, is an "inappropriate formula" for a "modern city like Mumbai."

The meat ban was called by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the Maharashtra government following a demand made by the Ahimsa Sangh Vishwamaitri Trust, this week. The Bombay High Court has also asked the state government and BMC whether such a ban was previously imposed on sale of mutton during these days.

Over the past few days, the meat ban has caused a political firestorm in Maharashtra. While the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-government wanted to extend the ban for eights days of the Jain festival, its ally Shiv Sena declared that it will ensure meat is openly sold and eaten in the financial capital.

READ: Shiv Sena, MNS Defy Mumbai Meat Ban, Sell Chicken At Roadside Stall

Shiv Sena echoed the sentiment of BJP rivals, Congress Party and the Nationalist Congress Party, which said that the mean ban was political move by to appease the Jain community in Mumbai, with an eye on elections to the BMC in 2017.

Thursday was the first day of the ban.

Here are five criticisms made by the Bombay High Court against the meat ban.

1) Method of enforcement? “How can you stop sale? Will the police and the municipal officers enter houses and say meat can’t be eaten?”

2) The court also questioned the Maharashtra government on why fish and other non-vegetarian food items including eggs have not been banned. "When you are talking of Ahimsa, how come fish, sea food and eggs are not banned?" the court asked.

Anil Singh, the government's top lawyer, told the court: "Fish die the moment they are out of water. So there is no slaughter involved."

3) Calling the ban as "regressive," the court said, "Purchase is an independent choice."

While Zubin Kamdin, the petitioner's lawyer, argued that the meat ban was imposed for the first time, this year, Singh, the government lawyer, said that circulars on the ban of mutton had been issued every year since 2004.

“There is a Hitler-like regime and the police is doing the rounds and asking shops to shut down,” said Kamdin.

"The ban is for a few days and makes no difference. It is not a violation of fundamental rights,” said Singh.

4) The Bombay High Court found the ban to be out of step with the times. "Eight-day straight ban can't be a formula. Mumbai is a modern city. We have to change our attitude in view of globalisation," the court said.

Strongly defending its move, the government argued, "A Supreme Court judgement says that we have to respect the sentiments of a particular community. It doesn't matter if Jains are fewer in number in Mumbai."

5) The Bombay High Court further asked the government to clarify its stand on chicken. “The concept of sale seems to be the issue here, what happens if it is available from other sources, will that be banned,” asked the court.

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