U.P. bans halal certified products, export goods to be exempted
Strict legal action would be taken against an individual or firm engaged in the production, storage, distribution, buying and selling of halal certified medicines, medical devices and cosmetics within Uttar Pradesh, as per the state government.
Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government on Saturday banned production, storage, distribution and sale of halal certified products in the state with immediate effect.
However, export products have been kept out of the purview of this ban.
Anita Singh, commissioner and additional chief secretary, Food Safety and Drug Administration (FSDA), Uttar Pradesh, issued a notification in this context on Saturday.
The ban is a sequel to an FIR being registered at Hazratganj police station in the state capital against four organizations, production companies, their owners and managers as well as other unidentified people for unnecessarily extorting money in the name of halal certification and promoting enmity in the name of religion and also funding different anti-national, separatist and terror organizations. Those made accused in the FIR include Halal India Pvt Ltd of Chennai, Jamiat Ulama Hind Halal Trust of Delhi, Halal Counselling of India and Jamiat Ulama of Mumbai, Maharashtra as well as some unidentified people.
“Strict legal action will be taken against an individual or firm engaged in the production, storage, distribution, buying and selling of halal certified medicines, medical devices and cosmetics within Uttar Pradesh,” said the state government.
“The halal certification is operating as a parallel system and it creates confusion regarding food quality, violating government rules in this regard,” it said.
The government has taken a serious note of products such as dairy items, sugar, bakery products, peppermint oil, beverages, edible oils, some medicines, medical devices and cosmetic products being labelled with halal certificates.
“The state government has banned production, storage, distribution and sale of halal certified products in the state with immediate effect. Only export products will be exempted from this ban,” said FSDA commissioner Anita Singh.
Elaborating on the issue, Singh said: “Earlier, halal certification was only confined to meat products. But today all types of products like oil, sugar, toothpaste and spices are being issued halal certificates.”
The state government pointed out that all acts related with certification of food products were scrapped and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) was introduced as the sole body to issue certificates for edible products.
“Except the FSSAI, no agency or body can issue certificates to products. Earlier, halal certificates were confined to meat products. But today they are being issued to all kinds of products such as toothpaste, sugar and oil to name a few,” said Singh.
What is halal certification
Halal certification is a guarantee that the product is prepared in accordance with Islamic law and is unadulterated. In India, the halal certificate is issued by a third party body unlike in Arab countries where a magistrate grants the halal certificate.
However, in India, government run institutions like the FSSAI and the ISI are authorised to certify food products.
Halal certified products
Products of renowned companies are carrying halal certificate.
According to the state government, sweets and namkeen, food products, cold drinks, juices, ice creams, cosmetics, food grains, medical products and other items are being halal certified.
Senior advocate, Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court Prashant Chandra said
ban on halal certified products was absolutely legal.
Every consumable food item, be it meat, poultry, packaged food and medication required certification only by expert agencies of the government, he said.
Any other agency undertaking certification in the name of ‘halal certification’ must be banned as it also had the ill effect of creating a divide between Muslims and non-Muslims and corroding the basic structure of the Indian Constitution which is secular in nature, he said.
Halal certification had the effect of compulsorily roping in non-Muslims to use only such products which had been approved by halal certification agencies, as over a period of time, any product not having halal certification was not marketable, Chandra said, adding that over the past three decades, since the concept was introduced, it was confined to meat sold by Muslim butchers in England. Gradually, it spread across the globe and practically every food item had now been brought within the dragnet of halal. Thus, a multi trillion dollar industry of halal certification had been created.
Petition in SC seeks ban on halal certification
Advocate Vibhor Anand had filed a petition in the Supreme Court in April 2022, seeking a complete ban on halal products and halal certification, claiming that fundamental rights of 85% citizens were being infringed upon for the sake of a mere 15% population which used these products.
The petitioner had sought withdrawal of all halal-certified products from the market by the multinational companies
Halal certification was first introduced in 1974 for slaughtered meat and was applied only to meat products till 1993. Subsequently, halal certification was extended to even food items, cosmetics, medicines, hospitals, housing societies and malls. It includes snacks, sweets, grains, oils, cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, toothpastes, nail polish, and lipsticks among other things.
Campaign against halal certification
The Hindu Janajagriti Samiti has been carrying out campaigns for the past several years against halal certification.
Members of the organisation have given representation to several ministers of the Yogi Adityanath government since 2017 seeking ban on halal certification.
Vishwanath Kulkarni, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar coordinator of the organisation, said: “Halal certification is completely illegal. It must be banned across the country. No law permits certification to food products by private agencies.”
“India is the biggest meat exporter to the world and most of this export is to Muslim countries. This export is of around ₹1.25 lakh crore. Muslim countries only want halal certified meat and such certificates are issued by religious bodies. Out of the top 20 meat exporters, 18 are non-Muslims. If halal certification is banned, it will cause revenue loss to the country. However, if the government goes ahead with this ban, then the Samajwadi Party will have no objection,” said Ameeq Jamai, spokesperson of the Samajwadi Party.
What IIA says
“Industry will abide by the state government’s decision. Whatever loss traders will face will be confined to packaging of goods,” said Neeraj Singhal, national president, Indian Industries Association, an industry lobby body of MSMEs.
According to the IIA, three per cent production cost of any product is its packaging cost.
“We do not have any data related with production of halal certified products,” said Singhal.