It’s essential to have tolerance, respect for all communities: Allahabad HC
Dismissing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed against restriction on sale and purchase of meat, liquor and eggs in 22 wards of Mathura Vrindavan Nagar Nigam which have been declared “holy place of pilgrimage” by the state government, the Allahabad high court observed, “It is essential to have tolerance and respect for all communities”.
The PIL petition was filed by one Shahida of Mathura district. Dismissing it, a division bench comprising Justice Pritinker Diwaker and Justice Ashutosh Srivastava further observed, “India is a country of great diversity. It is absolutely essential if we wish to keep our country united to have tolerance and respect for all communities and sects. It was due to the wisdom of our founding fathers that we have a constitution, which is secular in character and which caters to all communities, sects, lingual and ethnic groups etc., in the country. It is the constitution of India which is keeping us together despite all our tremendous diversity, because the constitution gives equal respect to all communities, sects, lingual and ethnic groups etc.”.
The state government under notification dated September 10, 2021, notified 22 wards of Mathura Vrindavan Nagar Nigam as “holy place of pilgrimage”. Thereafter, a consequential order dated September 11, 2021, was also passed by the food processing officer, food safety and drugs administration, Mathura, by which the registration of the shops selling meat and non-vegetarian restaurants was suspended with immediate effect in the aforesaid 22 wards.
It was contended in the PIL petition that on account of such restrictions imposed, the non-vegetarian people residing in the aforesaid wards so notified were being deprived of their choice of meals and also from carrying on their business and livelihood.
It was further argued that the restriction imposed was violative of Article 19 (1) (g), which provides freedom to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business and Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which provides protection of life and personal liberty.
It was alleged in the PIL petition that the authorities were also not permitting transportation of the restricted materials from other wards where there was no such restriction for personal consumption or consumption in marriages and other ceremonial functions. Such restriction was most arbitrary and could not be permitted, the PIL petition alleged.
The court found that the petitioner’s allegations that state authorities were harassing meat, liquor and egg consumers in these wards of Mathura Vrindavan were merely bald and sweeping statements. No material has been brought on record to substantiate this allegation.
Rejecting the plea of the petitioner, the court in its judgment dated March 28, said, “The Notification dated 10.9.2021 merely declares 22 Wards of the Nagar Nigam Mathura Vrindavan to be “Holy Place of Pilgrimage’’. The petitioner cannot be said to have any grievance against the same. We also do not find any clear violation of any constitutional provision by the said notification. It is the prerogative of the government to declare any place as “Holy Place of Pilgrimage”.
“Mere declaration of any particular place as “holy place of pilgrimage” does not mean that any restriction has been imposed and the said act is illegal. We are of the opinion that it is the privilege of the state to do so,” the bench said.
Appearing on behalf of the state government, additional advocate general Manish Goyal submitted that Mathura and Vrindavan are prominent places having great historical and religious importance being the birth place and “Kreeda Sthal” of Lord Krishna. The state government with a view to maintaining the historical, religious, tourism importance and above all the sanctity of the holy places issued the aforesaid notification dated September 10, 2021.
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