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HC may ban sale of meat in U’khand

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By ARUNPRATAP SINGH

DEHRADUN, 10 Aug: Uttarakhand Government has steadfastly refused to allow setting up of legal abattoirs in the state despite the court ordering a complete ban on slaughtering of animals in the open issued in September last year. Therefore, there is a strong possibility of the High Court soon banning sale of meat in Uttarakhand as it warned yesterday while hearing a petition in this respect. During the hearing, the High Court yesterday came hard on the government for failing to implement its orders banning slaughter of animals anywhere except legal abattoirs in the state. This means that the Government would need to either produce a stay order from the Supreme Court against the last year’s order by the Nainital HC, before the High Court by 20 August, if it wants sale of meat to continue in Uttarakhand. The High Court however has clearly warned that it would consider banning sale of all meat in the state, not sourced from legal abattoirs in the state with effect from 20 August if the government fails to produce a stay order from the SC. It may be recalled that Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has been on record categorically refusing to set up abattoirs in the state. It may also be recalled that Dehradun abattoir, functioning from Kargi has since long been closed and all the slaughter of animals is taking place ‘illegally’ since there is no regulation in force to regulate the slaughter of animals. As per the norms currently prevalent in the country, animals need to be slaughtered for meat in legal slaughterhouses and there is a legal requirement for mandatory medical examination by a veterinarian before slaughter to ensure that only healthy animals are slaughtered for meat. However, in absence of legal abattoirs in the state, there is a big question mark over the quality of meat being sold in the state. This also means that all meat currently on sale in the state is illegal and probably unhygienic! Therefore, the possibility of the High Court retracting its earlier orders is pretty slim, since it would not be easy for the court to ignore this and allow sale of illegal meat in the state. If the High Court does announce ban on sale of meat in the state, this is bound to result in acute shortage of meat in the state soon enough! The only legal slaughter house in Dehradun has been long closed and there are not many legal or even modern abattoirs in the state. Even if the government does agree to set up legal abattoirs in the state during the next hearing of the case, it would take time to really set up legal abattoirs and till then, the possibility of ban on sale of meat looms large in the state. It remains to be seen, what stand the government will take in the next hearing of the case. So far, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has categorically ruled out setting up of abattoirs in the state on more than one occasion. According to legal experts, it would not be easy for the state government to manage a stay from Supreme Court on the High Court order banning slaughter in the open, issued in September last year, since it had failed to secure the stay even in April this year when it had appealed in the Supreme Court against the High Court. The appeal filed by the state government in the Supreme Court against last year’s orders of the High Court is an indication of the fact that it is wary of a complete ban on sale of meat in the state as it can create a major problem and huge political issue in the state if a ban is imposed on sale of meat in the state. Meanwhile, the experts as well as animal welfare activists also support setting up of legal abattoirs in the state to ensure more ‘humane’ killing of animals and ensure availability of ‘hygienic meat’. They want slaughterhouses to be set up in the state with modern technology with stunning facility so that the animals were stunned before their slaughter. It may be recalled that the High Court bench comprising of Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma, said yesterday if the government failed to produce an order staying the high court’s prohibition on the slaughtering of animals by 20 August, the High Court would prohibit sale of all meat in the state unless their source was verified. The Court further stated that the Court could direct senior superintendents of police and district magistrates of all districts to stop sale of any meat not slaughtered in a legal slaughterhouse. In today’s hearing, the Court observed that without a stay by the Supreme Court against its orders issued last year, the High Court’s orders were still valid and stood. If the government failed to secure and produce before it any stay by the Supreme Court by 20 August, the court would consider banning sale of all meat, not slaughtered in legal slaughter houses. It may further be recalled that the High Court had also ordered in a separate decision to the government ensure proper and humane way of transporting of cattle in the state in order to prevent injury and stress to the animals being transported. However, this decision also remains ignored by the state government and district administrations. Nothing has been done to implement this also. The Police also hardly cooperate with the complainants in investigation of complaints in the right earnest!