The Gujarat High Court on Thursday (30th July), while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking a complete ban on "the slaughtering of goat/sheep/buffalo/male buffalo and consumption of such meat" (on the occasion of Bakri Eid), directed that a notification similar to what has already been issued in the city of Ahmedabad also be issued across the state of Gujarat.
The bench comprising of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice J. B. Pardiwala, was hearing PILs filed by Yash Shah, a social activist, and Pranin Foundation, a Vadodara-based animal rescue organisation. However, for the sake of convenience, the Writ Application (PIL) No.111 of 2020 was treated as the lead matter.
The petitioner had prayed for the following reliefs:
A. To issue a writ of mandamus or direct the respondents to issue directions or guidelines directing the manner in which the holy festival or Eid-Al-Adha may be celebrated;
B. To issue a writ of mandamus or direct the respondents to impose a complete ban on the slaughtering of goat/sheep/buffalo/male buffalo and consumption of such meat that has not been cleared as fit for consumption by the Veterinary Officer; for a period between 31st July 2020 to 1st August 2020.
C. To direct the respondents to take measures such as the enforcement of naka bandi and other measures to ensure that the individuals don't gather on roads, footpath or public places for offering the sacrifice as a ritual of Bakri Eid.
D. To direct the respondents to impose a ban on the operation of 'Mandi' that are organized for the purpose of selling animals; till the pious festival of Eid-Al-Adha is over, and be pleased to prohibit individual traders from effecting sale etc of animals up to 03.08.2020.
E. To direct the respondents to impose a complete ban on the transportation of animals.
Submissions of the Writ applicant
On behalf of the Writ applicant, Senior counsel H. M. Parikh appeared before the court and contended that having regard to the current pandemic situation (COVID-19), there should be an absolute ban on the slaughtering of animals and consumption of meat that has not been certified as fit for consumption by a competent officer in law.
Senior counsel also submitted that every year, animals are being slaughtered on the day of "Bakri Eid" on roads, footpaths and public places. It was prayed that appropriate directions may be issued in the public interest.
Significantly, it was submitted that "With social distancing being the major tool to keep the spread of COVID-19 at bay, there is a palpable concern amongst billions of Indian Citizens that if Bakri Eid is permitted to be celebrated in regular fashion then that will be an invitation for the catastrophe to strike. In India currently there is a huge surge in the cases of COVID-19 and by not regulating the event of Bakri Eid, with all certainly, will drastically increase the rampant spread of the pandemic."
Further, it was also stated that "the anticipation is not only related to the large gathering but the flags are also raised to the aspect of consuming the meat and distributing the same."
Stand of the State Government
Advocate General, Kamal Trivedi, and the Government Pleader Manisha Lavkumar Shah, while appearing on behalf of the State of Gujarat submitted that the court need not entertain this petition as the Notification dated 25th July 2020 issued by the Police Commissioner, Ahmedabad city (in the exercise of his powers under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973), takes care of the situation and that the said notification would also take care of the apprehensions expressed by the writ applicant.
It may be noted that the said Notification dated 25th July 2020 issued by the Police Commissioner, Ahmedabad city (in the exercise of his powers under Section 144 of the CrPC) states:-
(1) No person will kill any animal at public or private places, Mohalla or in the lane in the manner visible to other people. Also, not to decorate and move the animals alone or in the form of Sarghas (Procession) in public.
(2) After the Kurbani of the animal as a part of Bakri-Id celebration, not to throw in public the flesh, bones and other remains of animals.
(3) In the circumstances of COVID-19 Pandemic, all people will have to compulsorily wear the mask and maintain social distancing.
(4) No one will spit in public.
(5) All will have to strictly comply with the orders and guidelines of the Government of India and the Government of Gujarat to contain COVID-19.
It was also notified that this order shall remain in force during the period from 00:00 Hrs. on 27/07/2020 to 24:00 Hrs. on 05/08/2020.
After hearing the counsel appearing for the parties and having gone through the materials on record, the court was of the view that it did not need to adjudicate the present writ application filed in public interest any further, "more particularly, after going through the Notification referred to above."
The order of the court noted,
"We are satisfied with all the relevant aspects being taken care of in the Notification. We may only say that such Notification be issued at the earliest in all areas of the Commissionerate across the State. The notification on the same line shall be issued by all the Police Superintendents of the respective districts across the State of Gujarat."
With the aforesaid, both the writ applications were disposed of.
Case Title: Pranin Foundation through its founder Neha Dwarkadas Patel v. State of Gujarat
Case No.: R/Writ Petition (PIL) No. 110 of 2020 with R/Writ Petition (PIL) No. 111 of 2020
Quorum: Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice J. B. Pardiwala
Appearance: Senior Counsel H. M. Parikh, Advocate Harsh M. Khemka (for Applicants); Advocate General, Kamal Trivedi, Government Pleader Manisha Lavkumar Shah (for State)