Allahabad High Court: Amid the ongoing hue and cry over the closure of illegal slaughter houses in the State of Uttar Pradesh, the Division Bench of Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Sanjay Harkauli, JJ directed the State Government to earnestly address the issues related to the competing rights of trade, profession, health safety as well as consumption of meat. Making a significant observation, the Court stated that, “food that is conducive to health cannot be treated as a wrong choice and it is for this reason that provisions are obligated on the State to be made available for maintaining the requirement of supply of healthy foodstuffs”. The Bench observed that the food habits in the State of Uttar Pradesh indicates the development of the secular culture that has come to exist and is common amongst all sections of the society; therefore compliance of law should not end in deprivation, the cause whereof may be attributable to the inaction of the State.
The present matter pertained to the inaction displayed by the Nagar Palika Parishad, Lakhimpur Kheri in renewing the licence of the petitioner’s slaughter house which provided goat meat for local consumption. It was contended by the petitioner that the Nagar Palika in view of the Government Orders dated 22.3.2017, 24.3.2017, 27.3.2017 and 28.3.2017, is not taking any action as there is a drive to shut down unlawful slaughterhouses that were being operated throughout the State. It was further contended that immediate action has resulted in directly affecting the retail vendors who on account of non-availability and sudden closure of facilities of slaughtering are compelled to face the abrupt closure of their means of livelihood. Coupled with this is the inaction by the Municipalities in renewal of licenses of lawfully operating slaughterhouses.
Perusing the petitioner’s grievances, the Court further observed that an immediate check on an unlawful activity should be synchronized with facilitating the carrying of lawful activity, particularly when it is related to food, food habits and vending which is connected to the fundamental right to life and livelihood. Also it was observed by the Bench that health, culture, personal food habits, the socio-economic status of the society, the availability of foodstuff at affordable prices, the convenience of availability, the contents, quality and strength of foodstuffs essential to life, and a balance of such competing rights under the secular umbrella of the Constitution are all issues that need a deliberation before any overt or covert action is taken. It should not appear to be abrupt for those who are at the receiving end and should not be legally unconstitutional. The Court further directed the State Government to not to lose sight of the ‘dimensions and repercussions of the consequences’ that are likely to follow the aforementioned Government Orders on slaughterhouses and affect the public at large. [Saeed Ahmad v. State of U.P., MISC. BENCH No. 6871 of 2017, decided on 03.04.2017]