The Supreme Court on Thursday refused a Jain community organisation's plea to set aside the stay order issued by the Bombay High Court on a State government notification banning sale of meat and slaughter in Mumbai during Paryurshan festival. It noted that meat bans cannot be "shoved down someone's throat".
Dismissing the plea that a two-day ban on meat ban was an expression of compassion to animals and a practice of the principle of ahimsa , the Bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and Kurian Joseph said that "compassion is not something that should be reserved only for festival periods".
"The poet Kabir said 'why do you peek into the homes of those who use meat, let them do what they do, but why are you so bothered about them, brother'... You see, there should be an amount of tolerance and sensitivity to other communities also," Justice Thakur observed.
"Meat bans is not the way to inculcate ahimsa . Ahimsa cannot be forced. It has to be appealed to in a different manner at another level," Justice Thakur said.
He pointed out that there are people who do business in meat products. "It will be very difficult to find even implement the ban," Justice Thakur noted.
He said such calls for meat bans from governments are fodder for "elements who want to use it as a reason for conflict".
"Butchery is happening across the country, all over the world even if you agree or not to it. Please inculcate the spirit of tolerance within," he urged.
The petition was filed by Shree Tapagarhiya Atma Kamal Labdhisuriswarji Gyanmandir Trust against the Bombay Mutton Dealers Association challenging the HC stay on a September 2004 notification for closing down of abattoirs in Mumbai.
In its petition, the Jain Trust argued that a ban on meat for 15 to 20 days can only be conceived as compassion for animals. Even animals have right to live under Article 21 of the Constitution, advocate Abhishek Singhvi argued.
Allowing the Trust to withdraw its petition, the Bench gave it liberty to approach the Bombay High Court for an early resolution of the issue.