Bombay HC says meat shops can’t be shut on suspicion that they sell beef
The bench asked if mere suspicion was valid ground to suspend licences of meat sellers when there was no apparent breach of any terms and conditions of the licencesmumbai Updated: Feb 07, 2018 10:22 IST
The Bombay high court on Tuesday stayed Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation’s action to suspend licenses of 20 meat sellers from Nalla Sopara on the suspicion that they were selling beef.
A bench of Justices Abhay Oka and PN Deshmukh questioned the action merely on the basis of suspicion. The bench asked if mere suspicion was valid ground to suspend licences of meat sellers when there was no apparent breach of any terms and conditions of the licences. “On what basis has the corporation suspended the licences, on mere suspicion?” the bench asked the corporation’s lawyer. “Is it a common practice to go about suspending licences even if there is no apparent breach of terms and conditions?”
The bench was hearing a petition filed by meat sellers from Nalla Sopara challenging closure notices issued to them on December 16, 2017 by the civic body and in the meantime suspending their licenses.
The civic body not only suspended their licenses, but had also written to the local police to ensure they did not keep their shops open. According to the municipal corporation, on December 15-16 last year, it seized around 550 kgs of beef from the area where the meat shops are located. It suspended licenses of meat sellers, suspecting that the beef might have come from one of them. The meat sellers, however, denied that they were involved in the illegality.
They claimed that the corporation did not issue any notice and simply revoked their licences and asked them to shut shop. “We are aware that illegal slaughter and sale of beef is rampant in the locality. We have no role in it,” their lawyer, Drupad Patil, told the court.
Acting on the petition, the bench has also restrained the municipal corporation from taking any coercive action against the petitioners. “First of all, there is no allegation in the notice that the petitioners have committed any breach of licence terms,” the bench said. “Secondly, there is no proof that they were found to be selling beef. The notice (issued by the corporation suspending the licences) is ex-facie illegal,” it said.