Bilkis Bano

SC Notice To Centre, UP On Pleas Challenging Notification On Ban On Halal Certification

Bilkis Bano

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government on a plea seeking the quashing of notification wherein manufacture, sale, storage and distribution of halal-certified products were banned in the state.

A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta sought a response from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Uttar Pradesh through Hazratganj Police Station and Food Safety and Drug Administration in two weeks.

Two petitions were filed by Jamiat Ulama-E-Maharashtra and Halal India Pvt. Ltd. seeking direction to quash the November 18 notification of Uttar Pradesh’s Food Safety and Drug Administration and FIRs registered against them.

Petitions challenged a ban imposed by the Uttar Pradesh government on the “manufacture, sale, storage, and distribution of halal-certified products” on November 18.

Lucknow police had registered an FIR on November 17 at Hazratganj police station against some organisations, production companies, their owners and managers as well as other unidentified people involved in unnecessarily extorting money in the name of halal certification and promoting enmity in the name of religion and also funding different anti-national, separatist and terror organisations.

Petitioners said FIR was registered against them and they have been implicated despite the fact that they have no role whatsoever to play in relation to the issuance of halal certification.

At the outset of the hearing, the bench asked the petitioner, “Why should we entertain it under Article 32? Does the High Court not have jurisdiction to examine this?”

The counsel appearing for the petitioner said Uttar Pradesh’s ban has national implications and its impact on inter-state trade and commerce. The ban also affects the freedom of religion, counsel added.

“The court’s attention is required on whether a notification of this nature can be issued and second whether entities carrying out this exercise as accredited bodies under the aegis of the commerce ministry can be subjected to prosecution, only on grounds that such a certification is there. Such a position, however, has not been taken for practices of other religions or denominations like kosher. This will also have a significant impact on health, and on religious practices,” the advocate told the bench.

The petition filed by Jamiat Ulama-E-Maharashtra stated that FIR levies serious allegations against it for promoting halal products by which the companies are trying to bring communal differences among the consumers.

The petition stated that notification is “arbitrary and based on unreasonable classification”, said the petition adding that the manufacture, sale, storage and distribution of halal-certified products were banned with immediate effect in Uttar Pradesh from the view of “public health”.

“The notification is manifestly arbitrary as it capriciously excludes only halal certification while other certifications such as Jain, Satvik and even kosher have not been included within the purview of the said notification, indicating that it arbitrarily singles out one certification on the basis of religion which is an impermissible classification,” the petition said.

The notification has been issued without any adequate principle to determine as to how halal certification is adversely effecting public health, which is again vague, arbitrary and unreasonable, it added.

“It is submitted that the notification disincentivises the food preference of one particular religion without any rational basis and is therefore contrary to the secular fabric of the nation,” the plea further said. (ANI)

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