pork-678897_1280In a relief to the meat lovers in Mumbai, Bombay High Court has stayed the notifications of the Maharashtra State Government and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (BMC) which had directed the closure of meat selling shops and had prohibited the sale of meat during the Jain festival of Paryurshan.

Court has also asked the Government and the BMC to come out with a appropriate policy in this regard within four weeks.

Ban and challenge

As we had explained earlier, starting in the year 1964, every year BMC passed resolutions banning meat sale for two days. On 7 September 2004, Maharashtra Government imposed a further ban of two days.

This year ban was imposed on 10, 13, 17 and 18 September. Subsequently, Bombay Mutton Dealer Association approached Bombay High Court challenging the ban orders. On 11 September 2015, State Government told Court that it had withdrawn the circular banning meat sale on 13 and 18 September. As 10 September had already passed, the above order of the Court has stayed the remaining ban on 17 September 2015.

Case No. Writ Petition No. 2662 of 2015
Case Title The Bombay Mutton Dealer Association & Anr. v. The State of Maharashtra and Ors.
Bench Justices Anoop V Mohta and AA Sayed

Ban old but enforcement new, claims Petitioner

Petitioners association submitted before the Court that though the ban orders for two additional days was issued in 2004 but it was for the first time when Government had sought its imposition. It also submitted before the Court that the ban order was issued very late in point of time and without affording an opportunity of hearing.

Bom HC distinguishes Hinsa Virodhak Sangh case

Court distinguished the judgment of Supreme Court in Hinsa Virodhak Sangh v. Mirzapur Moti Kuresh Jamat & Ors by relying on the judgment of Supreme Court in Deepak Bhandari  v. Himachal Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation Limited, (2015) 5 SCC 518 opining that the judgment was based on different facts.

It further observed:

There are other reasons too why the judgment in Hinsa Virodhak Sangh’s case would not help the Respondents. In the said case before the Supreme Court, their Lordships found that there was a large population of Jain community in the State of Gujarat. In the present case, the Petitioners have averred in the Petition, that the Jain community comprises a minority of 8.5 lacs in Mumbai which has a population of about 22 million. Mumbai, which has come to be known as a cosmopolitan and global city would stand on a different footing altogether.

To appease few, others’ choices should not be affected

Court observed:

In facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the view that merely to appease one section of the Society, the personal dietary choices of the public at large should not be affected. The action of the State Government and Respondent Corporation to impose upon the people at large and to make certain foods unavailable in market at the instance of a section of the Society is something that we are unable to fathom. What one eats is his own business and it cannot extend to what others eat. In our view, the restrictions imposed by Respondents are unreasonable and suffer from the vice of arbitrariness and discrimination and would violate the fundamental rights of the Petitioners as well as general public also.

To be vegetarian or non-vegetarian is a matter of individual choice and habit…Fasting based upon the religion and/or culture is again a matter of individual choice.

Mumbai: a cosmo city and a city of diversity

Court observed:

We have to consider the factual situation and the practice followed by the Respondent Corporation in the cosmopolitan city like Mumbai. A sizable population in Mumbai are not Jains and/or follower of Jain ideology. It is a city of great diversity. The people of various communities, sects, lingual and ethnic groups are majority in number. There are communities/class of people whose daily food comprises of

Ban order vague

Court observed:

The sudden decision and irregular implementation of such policy by the Corporation, for four days, now two days, including ban of sale of meat, therefore, reflects confusion and vagueness and unclear policy/decision. It would be appropriate for the representation of all the parties and communities to sit together and work out an amicable solution

Stay on ban as an interim measure and state to formulate the policy

At the end of the order, Court ordered:

In light of the above discussion, we pass the following interim order:

(i) pending the hearing and final disposal of the petition, the directions contained in the State Government Notification/Circular dated 7 September 2004 and the Respondent Corporation Notifications/Circulars/Orders as regards closure of meat selling shops and the prohibition on selling of meat during Paryurshan are stayed. Inasmuch as in the present Petition we are concerned with mutton dealers from Mumbai and the Deonar abattoir, we clarify that the stay would extend to areas falling under Mumbai Municipal Corporation;
(ii) The State Government and Respondent Corporation to come out with appropriate policy and file Affidavits in Reply within four weeks.

Read Complete Order: