Friday, March 1, 2024

SC issues notice to UP government on plea challenging ban on halal-certified products

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on a plea challenging the constitutional validity of its decision to ban ‘Halal’ certified products.

The circular issued on November 18 prohibited “the manufacturing, storage, sale, and distribution of food products with Halal certification within the State of Uttar Pradesh, except for items produced for export.” 

A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta issued the notice to the UP government and sought a response from it on writ petitions filed by Halal India Pvt Ltd, an internationally recognised halal certification provider, Jamiat Ulama E Maharashtra and others.

The bench initially asked the petitioners to consult the high court, since they could also consider the issue. It was also asked why it should entertain the petitions filed under Article 32 of the Constitution.

In reply, the petitioners contended that the notification issued by the Office of the Commissioner, Food Safety and Drug Administration, UP, in November might result in a Pan India situation.

Since it may set a precedent for other states to follow, there could be negative consequences on interstate trade and commerce.They also called the ban an attack on the Muslim community.

“It is submitted that the widespread impact of the Impugned Notification and the ban on the manufacture, sale, storage, and distribution of halal-certified products has instilled fear in the populace all across India,” the plea filed through Advocate Ejaz Maqbool said. 

The notification had “nationwide repercussions that have particularly affected a certain religious minority i.e., the Islamic community and have created apprehension that the practice initiated by the Respondent State may be replicated by other states, intensifying the pervasive fear. This apprehension is substantiated by instances wherein leaders of other States in the country have advocated for a similar ban,” it further added.

The plea also sought quashing of the first information report (FIR) filed on November 11, 2023, at the Hazratganj police station in UP “against the petitioners and other entities under Sections 120-B, 153-A, 298, 384, 420, 467,468,471 and 505 of the IPC”.

The FIR, it said, alleged “without any iota of truth or any evidence whatsoever, that they were issuing forged halal certificates for financial gains which violates public trust, without any substantive evidence in support of the same” and that “the sale of halal certified products, fosters social animosity”.

The petition claimed that “all the allegations made in the impugned FIR…are false and baseless and are based only on hearsay and the FIR has primarily been lodged only to target a particular community”.

The Supreme Court, however, turned down the petitioner’s request, but assured that no coercive action be taken in pursuance of the notification and said it will examine the request later.

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