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HC refuses to interfere with Mumbai civic body’s circular for Bakri Eid sacrifices at Deonar

The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday refused to interfere with the decision of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to allow the sacrifice of only 300 big animals — water buffaloes per day at Deonar abattoir for the Bakri Eid festival starting from Wednesday (July 21)
By KAY Dodhiya, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JUL 20, 2021 11:32 PM IST

The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday refused to interfere with the decision of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to allow the sacrifice of only 300 big animals — water buffaloes per day at Deonar abattoir for the Bakri Eid festival starting from Wednesday (July 21).

Two separate petitions had sought directions to permit the sacrifice of privately-owned animals at the abattoir.

They had challenged the BMC circular of July 19, stating that 300 big animals (water buffaloes) would be permitted to be sacrificed at the abattoir per day from July 21-23.

However, after the petitioners requested that the number be increased to 700, the court said that in light of public health and pandemic, it was not inclined to interfere in the decision of the BMC. The court held that as the circular had resolved the issues raised in the petition, it could not grant further relief.

The division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni was hearing public interest litigations (PILs) filed by Al- Quraish Human Welfare Association and All India Jamiatul Qureish seeking directions to the BMC to increase the number of animals allowed to be sacrificed at Deonar abattoir to deter private individuals from carrying out the sacrifices unauthorisedly.

Senior counsel Anil Sakhare appearing for the BMC informed the bench that the civic authority had issued a circular on July 19 with regards to the activities and programmes and festivities connected with Bakri eid and the use of the Deonar abattoir between July 22 and 23.

“Last year, the number of large animals that were allowed to be slaughtered at the abattoir last year was 150 animals per day which have been increased to 300 this year. This has been done to avoid overcrowding. Devotees reaching the abattoir will have to follow protocols while sacrificing animals. There are already 900 and more animals at Deonar permitting more animals will result in overcrowding and hence the requests of the petitioners should not be allowed,” said Sakhare.

Sakhare further added that as there was a threat of the third wave, the civic authority was taking these precautionary measures and hence the relaxation sought for in the petition should not be allowed. “Now other festivals are starting, for Hindus, Muslims and others. Nearly 13-14 lakh people walk in pilgrimage (Vaari) to Pandharpur, but it is not permitted this year except for a few persons going by bus. Now Ganesh Utsav and Navratri will also come,” said Sakhkare.

After the BMC’s submissions, advocates AA Siddique and Tanveer Nizam for the petitioners submitted that the slaughter of 300 animals per day was insufficient as many people had made online purchases of the sacrificial animals before the BMC issued the circular, hence permission should be given to slaughtering of 700 animals per day during a three-day period.

However, the bench observed, “It appears from such a circular that the slaughterhouse will be open at an aforesaid rate between 6am and 6pm and maximum buffaloes permitted to be slaughtered is 300 per day. The circular provides for other measures to be adopted for the Covid protocol at the slaughterhouse. With the issuance of the circular dated July 19, 2021, the primary grievance with which the writ jurisdiction was invoked stands redressed.”

When advocate Nizam insisted on relaxations at the Deonar abattoir to accommodate the animals purchased the bench said, “Isn’t public health above religion? This is done keeping in mind prevailing circumstances. Possibly next time. Otherwise, the administration will not be able to function or manage.” The bench then disposed of the petitions.

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