Can’t force meat ban down someone’s throat, says Supreme Court

NEW DELHI (TIP): Sending a strong message amidst concerns over mounting curbs on individual liberties, the Supreme Court on September 17 said that “a ban cannot be forced down somebody’s throat” and that the “spirit of tolerance” was paramount. Declining to approve a temporary ban on sale of meat in Mumbai in deference to the Jain festival of ‘Paryushana’, the top court asserted that every order of prohibition has to honour the spirit of tolerance and take into account the sensibilities of people.

“There has to be spirit of tolerance and accommodation. Some sensibilities are called for. It cannot be in the spirit of conflict. The spirit of tolerance is very important and it has to be inculcated in a very subtle manner…in a very sensible manner,” said a bench of Justices T S Thakur and Kurian Joseph. “There has to be an understanding of a different level…of a mature level,” the bench added.

The bench also quoted a couplet by poet Kabir to put across its point:
“Kabira teri jhopadi gal katiyan ke paas, jaisi karani vaisi bharani tu kyun hua udaas (One reaps what one sows and nobody else needs to worry about it). “So why do you worry?” the bench asked advocate Manish Singhvi, who appeared for a Jain organisation which had challenged the Bombay High Court order lifting the ban.

Observing that the state placing sudden restrictions on the citizens’ eating habits is not correct, the High Court had on Monday stayed the ban sought to be imposed by the state government in Mumbai on September 17. Singhvi, however, contended that some compassion has to be shown for living creatures and asked what harm could be caused by not selling meat on one or two days in a year. Singhvi added there are various judgments of the apex court, underlining the need to be compassionate towards animals in terms of Constitutional duties.

But the bench responded: “We think that compassion for living creatures does not have to be only on a few days around festivals. It has to be throughout the year.” It said the meat ban would also be difficult to enforce practically when meat can also be sold as packed food items. “Half the day is already gone. The abattoirs are already closed under orders. We know butchering of animals is going on throughout the country everyday. Let this all be in the spirit of tolerance. The High Court has passed a detailed order with extensive reasoning. You should first get it decided there,” said the bench. Singhvi then urged the apex court to request the High Court to hear the issue expeditiously so that there is clarity on the subject in future. While allowing him to withdraw the petition, the bench asked the High Court to preferably decide the matter within six months if approached by the petitioner, the Shree Tapagachiya Atma Kamal Labhdisuriswarji Gyanmandir Trust.

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