Maharashtra can’t order local bodies to shut meat shops, says Bombay high court
The court set aside a 2003 state circular, directing all local bodies to shut all slaughter houses and meat shops in deference to Mahavir Jayantimumbai Updated: Apr 06, 2017 23:23 IST
The Bombay high court said the Maharashtra government has no statutory powers to direct municipal bodies to close slaughter houses and meat shops on any particular day.
A bench of justices AS Oka and AK Menon last Friday set aside a state government circular issued on March 28, 2003, directing all local bodies in the state to shut all slaughter houses and meat shops in deference to Mahavir Jayanti.
“The additional government pleader had failed to point out the statutory provisions under which the circular was issued. After studying the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act and the Town Planning Act, the court concluded that there exists no statutory provisions that enable the Maharashtra government to direct local bodies close meat shops and abattoirs on religious festivals,” explained the bench.
The judges’ observations came to light on Thursday when government counsel Hiten Venegaonkar informed another division bench led by Justice Anoop V Mohta about it.
Venegaonkar submitted that considering Justice Oka’s order and the fact that the 2003 circular had been set aside, the “state could no more” issue directions to restrict the sale and/or slaughter of meat in deference to religious festivals and that “only local civic bodies have the powers to do so”.
Justice Mohta, however, pointed out that there were two more circulars issued by the state, seeking to ban meat. He asked the state whether the annulment of the March 2003 circular meant that there could not be any restrictions on the sale and slaughter of meat and whether local bodies are legally empowered to ensure implementation of such bans.
Justice Mohta was hearing a plea filed in 2015 by the Bombay Mutton Dealers’ Association which challenged a circular issued at the time by the BMC and the state government. The circular banned slaughter and sale of mutton and chicken in Mumbai for four days in September that year because of the Jain festival of ‘Paryushan.’
The HC is likely to take up the matter for further hearing next week.