The Bombay High Court on Monday lifted the ban on the sale of meat on September 17 in the area under the jurisdiction of the Mumbai municipality, but refused to interfere with the closure of slaughter houses on the same day.
The ban on sale and slaughtering was imposed to observe ‘Paryushan Parva,’ considered a holy period for Jain community. The Mumbai municipality had initially imposed the ban for four days, but later cut it short to two days — on September 10 and 17 — due to intense protest from political parties.
The court was hearing the petition filed by Bombay Mutton Dealers Association, which had challenged the municipality’s decision. A division bench of Justices Anoop Mohta and Amjad Sayyed in their order said, “We are staying the ban on the sale of meat on September 17. We are not interfering with the ban on slaughter of meat and closure of abattoirs on that date.”
In 2004, the government had issued a circular that banned the sale and slaughter of meat for two days. The court observed that it was never implemented fully.
“Even though there was a ban since 2004, it was never implemented in totality,” it said, observing that there has been an inconsistency in the stands taken by the Mumbai municipality and the State government on this. “The municipality had, in the past, never insisted on banning the sale of meat, but it only focused on closing abattoirs,” observed the court.
The petitioners had claimed that the ban imposed on meat is unconstitutional and it affects their livelihoods. It had also claimed that the ban went against the secular fabric of the constitution.
Similar bans were imposed in neighbouring Mira-Bayander and Navi Mumbai municipal corporations. However, the court did not pass any order on those corporations, saying ‘nobody has come forward to challenge the ban there.’
The decision was opposed from all quarters, especially from Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), who claimed that the Jain community cannot preach local Marathi population on their food habits. Both the parties held demonstrations across the city, with the MNS even setting up meat shops.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray had assured protection to all meat sellers from the civic body and asked them to keep their shops open. On Sunday, several MNS activists even arranged a ‘non-veg party’ in Mumbai’s Vile Parle area, which has a high concentration of Gujarati population.
Several Jain business leaders held a meeting with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday afternoon to solve the issue, after which Mr. Thackeray announced that the matter has been solved amicably.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which initially supported the ban, later changed track by asking the Mumbai’s civic body to reduce number of days meat was banned from four to two.