The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a plea against a Bombay high court order staying a ban on the sale of meat in Mumbai during a Jain festival saying there should be a spirit of "tolerance and accommodation".
"These are issues which cannot be forced down somebody's throat... There has to be the spirit of tolerance and anything should not be thrust on a particular class," the SC said while noting that the high court order seems to be elaborate and that compassion for animals need not be observed only on festivals.
At the outset, the court expressed its reluctance to stay the order of the high court, saying, "Half-a-day has already gone."
Even good teaching cannot be forced upon others and people reap what they sow said one of the judges, who cited a couplet of legendary poet Kabir.
The remark came when the counsel for the petitioner said non-violence and compassion towards animals have been a part of good teachings and observing two days ban on the sale of meat is not going to harm anybody.
"Compassion towards animals does not have to be observed on festival days only," said the apex court.
The apex court bench of justice TS Thakur and justice Kurian Joseph, however, allowed petitioner Shree Tapagachiya Atma Kamal Labhdisuriswarji Gyanmandir Trust, a trust of minority Jains, to approach the Bombay high court with its grievances.
"We make it clear that we have not made any observations on the merits of the case. It would be open for the petitioner to approach the high court which would decide the plea within a period of six months. Petition is dismissed as withdrawn," the bench said.
The Bombay HC had on Monday stayed the ban on the sale of meat for today in Mumbai imposed in the wake of Jain community's 'Paryushan' fasting period.
The court had, while clarifying that the stay will be limited to the Mumbai jurisdiction area, refused to interfere with the ban on the slaughter of animals and closure of abattoirs.
The high court had also observed that though the Maharashtra government issued a circular in 2004 banning meat sale on two days, it was never implemented fully, adding that there has been inconsistency in the stands of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and the state government.
The HC had also queried as to why fish and eggs were excluded from the ban, saying, "If it is a question of practice of non-violence by the Jain community, then why only mutton and chicken have been included in the ban and not fish and eggs?"
A controversy erupted after the Bombay civic body decided last week to ban the sale of meat in Mumbai for four days during the Paryushan Parva, which lasts a total of eight days. It said that the slaughter of animals would not be allowed in the city’s abattoirs and that meat and poultry shops and fish markets would be shut on September 10, 13, 17 and 18.
The move triggered a political slugfest with Maharashtra's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanding the ban should be imposed for eight days and the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena strongly opposing the decision.
The BJP later said it would request the civic administration to reduce the ban to only two days.
(With agency inputs)