HC refuses to interfere in BMC’s decision to limit number of animals sacrifices for Bakri Eid

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Mumbai, Jul 20 (PTI) The Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to interfere in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) decision to impose restrictions on the number of animals to be sacrificed at the Deonar abattoir in the city for Bakri Eid.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni said that the state administration had imposed the restrictions keeping in mind the prevailing COVID-19 situation.

The bench was hearing a bunch of petitions seeking, among other things, that the BMC be directed to increase the number of animals to be sacrificed at the abattoir over the next three days.

As per the circular issued by the BMC on July 19, the Deonar abattoir will remain open between 6 am and 6 pm from July 21 to July 23, and 300 buffaloes or 'big animals' will be permitted to be sacrificed on each of these three days.

The petitioners, however, sought that the civic body allow 700 to 1,000 big animals to be sacrificed per day for the next three days.

Advocate Tanveer Nizam, the counsel for one of the petitioners, told the court that as the BMC had not given any prior indication that the number of animals to be sacrificed will be limited, people had bought a large number of animals to be sacrificed, and many of them will be left out now.

The High Court, however, asked, 'Isn't public health above religion?' 'This is done keeping in mind the prevailing circumstances (the pandemic). Possibly next time. Otherwise, the administration will not be able to manage,' the court said.

Senior counsel Anil Sakhre, who appeared for the BMC, informed the court that the restrictions on the number of animals to be sacrificed in the city had been imposed as a measure of 'crowd control' at the abattoir.

'Last year, it was 150 animals per day, this year, 300 per day. People can come, offer sacrifice. This is to avoid overcrowding,' Sakhre said.

A decision to limit the timings and the number of animals to be sacrificed was taken by the state government on July 2 keeping in mind the COVID-19 protocols, following which, the BMC issued its circular.

'Now all the festivals are starting, for Hindus and Muslims. Ganpati and Navratri will also be there. We are taking these precautions for the third wave,' the senior counsel said.

The High Court took his submissions on record and said that the restrictions were the 'decision of the executive', and did not warrant any interference from the court.

The bench, however, stayed a circular issued earlier this month by the commissioner of the Bhiwandi Nizampur City Municipal Corporation (BNCMC) that permitted 38 temporary slaughterhouses to operate on July 21 in the areas under its jurisdiction.

These temporary spaces were not licensed slaughterhouses and hence, could not be allowed to operate, as the ritual can take place only at designated, pre-licensed slaughterhouses, in accordance with law, the bench observed.

The BNCMC commissioner had proceeded to issue the circular without obtaining any permission from the state government, the court said.

'We have no other option but to stay the circular. No slaughter should be allowed, except in licensed slaughterhouses. In case of any violation of statutory rules, appropriate action shall be taken by the police authorities,' it said.

Meanwhile, another bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar also passed orders on another plea regarding animal slaughter in Mumbra area of Thane district.

The bench directed the Thane police commissioner to ensure that no illegal slaughter of animals took place within the jurisdiction of the Mumbra police station.

'We are of the view that the slaughtering of animals ought to be confirmative with the licenses issued by competent authority and at designated spaces, during designated hours,' the bench led by Justice Shinde said. PTI AYA ARU ARU

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