Bombay High Court’s decision to stay Maharashtra government’s controversial order of meat ban will continue. On Thursday, the Supreme Court declined to even take up the petition filed against the Bombay High Court’s decision where it had stayed the state government’s order to ban sale of meat in Maharashtra during Jain festival. Refusing to even entertain the plea, the top court bench observed that the governments of the day cannot “force” their decisions on the people.
“Every prohibitory order has to be in spirit of tolerance and accommodation…It cannot be forced down people’s throats,” the apex court bench said.
“It is only an interim order and the ban expires today… The petitioners can go to the high Court,” the bench further added.
The plea was filed by a Jain organisation challenging the Bombay High Court order of Septmeber 14, where the bench of Justice Anoop V Mohta and Justice Amjad Sayyed cited out inconsistencies in the stands of the Mumbai municipal body and the state government.
“Although the circular was of 2004, we are very clear that the MCGM never fully implemented the ban on sale of meat. It never insisted on this (ban on sale of meat), but only insisted on closure of abattoirs,” the High Court bench said referring to the state government’s September 7, 2004 circular stating the closure of abattoirs and ban on slaughter and sale of meat for two days during the ‘Paryushan’ festival.
The Mumbai municipal body and the state government had earlier this month imposed ban on the sale of meat in connection with the Jain community’s fasting season “Paryushan”. The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) had announced ban on the sale of meat and closure of abattoirs for September 13 and 18. The BJP-Shiv Sena run Maharashtra state government too had banned it further for September 10 and 17. But after protest and fissures within the BJP and Shiv Sena, the civic body decided to withdrew the ban last week.
Meanwhile, the matter reached High Court after city meat seller’s body moved a plea against the ban. While passing the interim orders, the High Court division bench had also questioned why the Jain community wants to practice non-violence only on some days.
“You (Jains) do not have a problem if slaughter of animals is done on some days. If ahimsa (non violence) is on your mind, then why this alternate day permission?” the court asked.
The issue has off-late kicked up a political storm with questions being raised on intrusion into eating habits of people and even bringing long term allies – BJP and Shiv Sena – on the crossroads. Shiv Sena, which is the dominant ruling partner in MCGM, had opposed the ban even as its partner BJP continues to support the ban. The cadres and workers of Shiv Sena as well as Maharashtra Navnirmal Sena (MNS) and the NCP had hit the street on September 10 protesting against the ban. In an interesting move, the party cadres also brought in moving kiosks to sell meat and chicken out on the streets.
The matter, however, is still pending hearing in the Bombay High Court, which will now consider if such a ban is correct in a metropolitan or cosmopolitan city and if it amounts to a violation of the fundamental rights of people and if one religion can be given preference over others.
(With inputs from the PTI)