Tuesday, March 18, 2008

'Abattoirs to close for Jain festival in Guj'

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday upheld a Gujarat government order closing slaughter houses for nine days every year during the Jain festival of 'Paryushan' and said that non-vegetarians could remain vegetarian for this short period.

Drawing liberally from poetry penned by sages, Puranas and history as also the Constitution, a bench comprising Justices H K Sema and Markandey Katju rejected the argument of the meat traders' association, "Mirzapur Moti Kuresh Jamat", that this nine-day restriction was violative of their fundamental right to business.

"The traders in meat of Ahmedabad will not suffer much merely because their business has been closed down for nine days in a year. There is no prohibition to their business for the remaining 356 days in a year," said Justice Katju, writing the judgment for the bench.

Asking the communities to be respectful to each other's sentiments, the bench said: "In a multi-cultural country like our's with such diversity, one should not be over-sensitive and over touchy about a short restriction when it is being done out of respect for the sentiments of a particular section of the society."

"Great Emperor Akbar himself used to remain a vegetarian for a few days every week out of respect for the vegetarian section of Indian society and out of respect for his Hindu wife. We too should have similar respect for the sentiments of others, even if they are a minority sect," said Justice Katju.

Commenting on the heterogenicity of India, the court said: "India is is a union of states and there is one nationality that is Indian. Hence, every Indian has a right to go anywhere in India, to settle anywhere, and work and do business of his choice in any part of India, peacefully."

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