Animal slaughter, religion and the law: India

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Paryushan and banning animal slaughter

SC: Non-vegetarians can remain veg during Paryushan/ 2015 Sept

The Times of India, Sep 14 2015

Dhananjay Mahapatra

Non-vegetarians can remain veg during Paryushan: SC

The ban on sale of meat for eight days by the BJP-led Mira Bhayandar municipal corporation, as a mark of respect for the Jain community's tradition of not harming living beings during Paryushan, has evoked strong reaction from every community. It is an extreme step to impose a ban on anything as it hits at the root of the democratic ethos of a country as diverse as India, both in terms of religion and social plurality.

But the Supreme Court has upheld such bans in the past. On the contentious issue of imposing vegetarianism during Paryushan, the SC had found nothing wrong in such a decision in its judgment pronounced on March 14, 2008, in `Hinsa Virodhak Sangh vs Mirzapur Moti Kuresh Jamat & Others'. The common grievance of slaughter house operators in Gujarat was that with a view to appease the Jain community , the state government and the Ahmedabad municipal corporation had, from time to time, passed resolutions for closure of municipal abattoirs in Ahmedabad during Paryushan, resulting in serious violation of their fundamental right to trade and do business in meat. Justice Markandey Katju, writing the judgment for the bench headed by Justice H K Sema, had said, “In the present case, we have seen that for a long period, slaughter houses have been closed in Gujarat for a few days out of respect for the sentiments of the Jain community , which has a sizable population in Gujarat and Rajasthan. We see nothing unreasonable in this restriction.“It is a short restriction for a few days and surely the nonvegetarians can remain vegetarian for this short period.Also, the traders in meat of Ahmedabad will not suffer much merely because their business has been closed down for nine days in a year. “There is no prohibition to their business for the remaining 356 days in a year. In a multi-cultural country like ours with such diversity , one should not be over-sensitive and over-touchy about a short restriction when it is being done out of respect for the sentiments of a particular section of society.“ As a clincher, Justice Katju had summoned his knowledge of history to reinforce the judgment upholding closure of slaughter houses to force the population to remain vegetarian during a religious festival. “It has been stated above that the great Emperor Akbar himself used to remain a vegetarian for a few days every week out of respect for the vegetarian section of In dian society and out of respect for his Hindu wife. We too should have similar respect for the sentiments for others, even if they are a minority sect,“ the SC had said.

SC upholds Bombay HC’s lifting of meat ban/ 2015 Sept

The Times of India, Sep 18 2015

AmitAnand Choudhary

Meat ban can't be forced down citizens' throats: SC

Upholds Bombay HC order lifting curbs on non-veg

Coming out strongly against the ban culture, the Supreme Court fully endorsed the Bombay high court's decision to lift a civic body's ban on sale of meat in Mumbai during the Jain festival of Paryushan. “The meat ban cannot be pushed down the throat of citizens,“ said a bench of Justices T S Thakur and Kurian Joseph while dismissing a petition by a trust run by the Jain community challenging the HC's interim order lifting the ban on sale of meat imposed by Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC).

“It is happening throughout the country and the world.Spirit of tolerance is important and it has to be inculcated.These are the issues which cannot be forced down some one's throat and these things should not be thrust on a particular class,“ the bench said while dismissing the petition filed by Shree Tapagachiya Atma Kamal Labhdisuriswarji Gyanmandir Trust. As they decried the growing ban culture, Justices Thakur and Joseph s asked the government and its agencies to be more tolerant to wards diversity . The trust sub mitted that non-violence was a cherished dream of the couni try and people should show compassion towards animals., It said banning sale of meat was a step in that direction. The trust further told the bench the circular to ban sale of meat was in operation since 2004 and there was nothing wrong in implementing it.

Unconvinced, the bench said there was no logic to show compassion to animals only during festivals when ban was imposed. “It should be shown throughout the year,“ the bench said.

The court said the HC had “taken pain“ in passing an extensive order which should not be interfered at this stage and traders should be allowed to sell meat. “There are many people doing meat business and it is very difficult to impose such ban,“ it said, asking the petitioner to approach the HC where the matter is pending.

“We have not expressed any opinion on merit of the case and the high court will decide it without being influenced by our observation.The HC will decide the plea within six months. Petition is dismissed as withdrawn,“ the bench said.

Justice Thakur quoted Kabir's couplet to emphasize that people should be left to take decisions themselves instead of imposing a decision on them. “Kabira teri jhopdi, gal katiyan ke paEas, Jaisi karni waisi bharni, tu kyu bhaya udas (O Kabir! your hut is next to the butcher's, Why do you feel down? For their conduct they only shall pay),“ Justice Thakur said.

Bombay HC: Paryushan and banning animal slaughter/ 2015 Sept

The Times of India, Sep 15 2015

Swati Deshpande

HC: Maha meat ban put arbitrary restrictions 

The Bombay high court upheld the right of the people to buy and sell food of their choice by staying the controversial ban on sale of meat in the city on September 17, 2015, in connection with Paryushan, a period of fasting observed by Jains. The HC slammed the state and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and said the ban placed “unreasonable, arbitrary and discriminatory restrictions that violate the fundamental rights“ of mutton and poultry dealers, who had challenged the ban, as well as the common people. It directed the state and BMC to “come with appropriate policy and file a reply within four weeks“.

The HC, however, said the ban on meat sale could continue to be implemented in the rest of Maharashtra and upheld the ban on slaughter and closure of abattoirs across the state on September 17.

The judges said, “We are with you on sentiments, but we are clear on law,“ and added that the BMC's policy was not was inconsistent with that of the state, and appeared illogical at a time when cities were going global. The state's ban included one on September 10, which was implemented as the petition was heard a day later.

Justices Anoop Mohta and Amjad Sayed passed the order that many senior lawyers consider a landmark one. They were hearing a PIL filed by the Bombay Mutton Dealers Association. The PIL challenged what was originally a four-day ban, including two days imposed by the BMC in Mumbai.Its counsel, Zubin Behramkamdin, said the ban was unconstitutional, discriminatory, violated the right to trade, and the secular fabric and democratic principles the state is meant to uphold.

The HC came prepared with the order in which it drafted many serious issues which would now be considered at the final hearing of the PIL, which challenges a September 2004 state circular and the BMC circular of September 1, 2015, for separate days of the ban.

The circular allows the state to impose a strict ban on slaughter and meat sale on two days during Paryushan and also enables appeals to be made to civic bodies for additional days. The two-day ban on September 13 and 18, by the BMC, was withdrawn by the civic body last Friday when it faced tough questions from the court and also opposition from Shiv Sena in the House.

The state's acting advocate general Anil Singh said the PIL was only challenging the ban in the city and the ban on actual sale of meat is only for two days, a restriction he said was “reasonable“. But the HC disagreed.

Hyderabad Muslim group to protect cows

A Muslim group in Hyderabad has entrusted itself with the task of protecting cows from being slaughtered, days ahead of Bakrid. Christened Arab Gourakshana Samithi (AGS), the group comprises Muslims from Barkas, a suburban area of the Old City. Abdallah Bin Ali Bahameid, president of AGS and a lawyer by profession, chooses to call the initiative a “movement“ which intends to bring about communal harmony. “We are working towards building a spirit of brotherhood among Hindus and Muslims,“ Bahameid says.

Non-vegetarian food in religious townships

SC upholds ban

The Times of India, Sep 14 2015

The SC had also upheld the decision of municipal authorities to impose a ban on non-vegetarian food in the integrated religious townships of Haridwar, Rishikesh and Muni ki Reti in its judgment on March 9, 2004 in the case `Om Prakash and Others vs State of UP', saying the decision was in deference to the religious and cultural demands of a large number of residents and pilgrims. It had said, “Geographical situation and peculiar culture of the three towns justify complete restriction on trade and public dealing in non-vegetarian food items, including eggs within the municipal limits of the towns. The high court rightly upheld it to be a reasonable restriction. Trade in all kinds of food items, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, in adjoining towns and villages outside the municipal limits of the three towns remains unrestricted and there is no substantial harm caused to those engaged in such trade,“ the SC had said. The apex court was even more zealous in supporting complete ban on cow slaughter enforced by the legislature by enacting a law to give effect to the constitutional mandate under Article 48.

Cow slaughter on Bakr Eid

HC 1995

The Times of India, Sep 14 2015

In West Bengal vs Ashotosh Lahiri [1995 (1) SCC 189], the court had to decide whether it was legally permissible for the state to permit cow slaughter on the occasion of Bakrid despite the existence of a law banning cow slaughter.

The Calcutta high court had struck down the state government's power to grant such an exemption. There was total ban on the slaughter of healthy cows and other animals mentioned in the schedule under Section 2 of the Act.West Bengal appealed in the SC against the HC order. On a review of earlier decisions of the SC, a threejudge bench concluded that it was a settled legal position that there was no fundamental right of Muslims to insist on slaughter of healthy cows on the occasion of Bakrid.

The court said, “We, therefore, entirely concur with the view of the high court that slaughtering of healthy cows on Bakrid is not essential or required for religious purpose of Muslims or, in other words, it is not a part of religious requirement for a Muslim that a cow must be necessarily sacrificed for earning religious merit on Bakrid.“

So, the outrage following the ban on meat consumption may be well founded in the democratic character of the country but, legally speaking, the SC had in the past held that such bans, like closure of slaughter houses for nine days, were perfectly constitutional.

See also

Animal sacrifice in Hindu ceremonies

Animal slaughter, religion and the law: India

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