“After all, butchers are practicing a trade and it is their fundamental right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, which is guaranteed to all Citizens of India. Moreover, it is not a matter of the proprietor of the butchery shop alone. There may also be several workmen therein who may become unemployed if the Slaughter Houses are closed……. One of the conditions of the license given to the shop owners is to supply meat regularly in the City……. Closer of these meat shops would not therefore be proper. Also, a large number of people are non-vegetarian and they cannot be compelled to become vegetarian. What one eats is one’s personal affair and it is a part of his right to privacy, which is recorded in Article 21 of out Constitution.”
Supreme Court in the matter of Mirzapur Moti Quresh Jamat (2008 AIR SCW 2117)
The deliberate and obdurateness of the Lucknow Municipal Corporation and other local authorities is today endangering the livelihoods of approximately 400 meat/slaughter shops and their employees, despite the fact that owners of these establishments have been with regularity applying not just for renewal of their licenses but supporting the need for a Mechanised Slaughterhouse.
The matter has become acute especially given the arbitrary actions of the newly elected BJP government that, with no concern for rules or due process has authorized policemen to go around intimidating and bullying meat shop owners and traders. Over 90 per cent of these belong to the Muslim Quraish community. No notices have been served on any of the meat traders or slaughter houses against whom such violent and arbitrary actions have been unleashed.
On March 28, Sabrangindia had reported on the writ petition on the issue filed by advocate Girish Chandra on which the Lucknow Bench of the High Court had asked serious questions to the administration. Sabrangindia has a copy of this petition that may be read here. During the hearing of the matter of March 27, the HC directed the District Administration Ordered to Explain Non-Renewal of Licenses. Moreover the state government was asked to produce chied minister Adityanath’s directive before the Court. Sabrangindia has reliably learned that no such directive has been passed. The Court had expressed extreme displeasure over the arbitrary manner in which the administration has been acting on the UP government's directive for shutting down "illegal" slaughterhouses. The Lucknow municipal corporation has been asked to explain why it us not renewing licenses.
April 3 has been fixed as the next date of hearing.
According to the Chandra, "poor meat traders are being made to pay a heavy price because of the mal-administrarion of the government and the city corporation." He added, "despite the Environment Ministry's notification that all slaughterhouses must be licensed, the civic bodies failed to issue licenses to over 300 slaughterhouses in UP. Nor did they renew licenses." In 2015 itself, Chandra had filed a petition on behalf of 412 meat traders, demanding renewal of their licenses but no action has been taken till date.
The petition makes a strong case for the right of a citizen to conduct business as guaranteed by and protected by the Constitution of India. For over 250 years into the meat trade and business, the 200 families of the Qureshi community feed 15 lakhs of the non-vegetarian population of Lucknow. As law abiding citizens they have not only followed the law, but applied for regular renewals in according to procedures. Since 1959 they have applied and renewed licenses annually paying the fees and have had valid licenses good, valid and effective till March 31, 2015. Despite several applications for renewal since on different dates in the office of Municipal Commissioner in-between the last week of February as well as first week of March, 2015, these were not renewed despite payment of the Rs 1,000 fee. The petitioners have also supported the need for a Mechanised and Modernised Slaughterhouse in which their livelihood is protected and of which they are a part.
Despite this move to shift to a 5 hectares of land, it was the Lucknow Municipal Corporation that was not sincere and consistent in its efforts to pursue the effort. The total budget for the scheme of Rs 52 crores but this was not allocated by the government and thereafter promised in a private-p[ublic partnership model. In 2013 the corporation gave up the idea. The delay and slackness in modernizing this business (in accordance with the National Green Tribunal aqnd Courts) lies squarely with the Lucknow Municipal Corporation.. Finally the petitioners argue that they cannot be held responsible for any delay in modernizing the slaughter house and the business of the petitioners cannot be stopped on behest that the modernization of the slaughter house of the Municipal Corporation is delayed the process.There are ten petitioners in the case who include Shahbudden, Rehnuma, Sahedin, Hasan Ahmed.
In the petition, the meat traders and businessmen have alleged that over the past six years, it is the lethargy and tardiness of the Lucknow Municipal Corporaton that has dragged its feet in renewing the licenses. Given this background, the traders cannot be held responsible for the laxity of the authorities in upgrading and modernizing the Slaughter House.
The petition makes out strong grounds to show how the meat traders and businessmen cannot be held responsible for the delay being caused by the Municipal Corporation in upgrading and modernizing the Slaughter House. They had not opposed, in fact supported the scheme for Modernisation and Mechanisation, wanting to be part and parcel of the effort.
The petition traces the history of the city and the crucial livelihood question. Since 1700 AD when the city of Lucknow was established under the Nawabs of Audh, slowly separate Mohallas were set up for the the different professions: Yahiyaganj for the persons dealing with Utensils, Jauhari Tola for the men dealing with gem & ornaments, Kahar Tola dealing with potteries, Katai Tola for the carpenters, Phool Wali Gali for the persons dealing with flowers, Pan Dariba dealing with tobacco and allied business. Chidia Bazar was established for the market and residence of the persons, who were doing business of birds and other species. Those persons, who opted to indulge in the business to sell fish, flash/meat, eggs etc. were settled in Mohalla Billauchhpura, where atleast 200 persons were dealing with this business and all of them belong to Qureshi community. About 100 shops sell flash of goats, hen as well as buffaloes in Mohalla Billauchhpura. Now with the expansion of the limits of the town, atleast 400 more shops have been established in different parts Lucknow.
After the Nawans were dethroned in 1857, under the British Government and thereafter under the Local Self-Government, an arrangement was made for slaughtering of animals in the outskirts of Lucknow in an area called Moti Jheel, which was an abandoned and far away place from the abadi at that time. After quite some time, a building of slaughter house was also constructed in that area, which was managed by the then Local Self-Government. In 1959, after the incorporation of the Municipal Corporation Act, under section 426 of the said Act, the sale of meat was regulated by way of issuing appropriate licenses:
“The place where, chicken/hen, goat, buffaloes and pigs are slaughtered and sold will be called a meat shop and where these animals are slaughtered will be called ‘Slaughter House’. Separate licenses will be needed to open and operate a meat shop and the Slaughter House. As per Section 426 of the Act, no person shall without license from Nagar Ayukt, sell or expose any animal or any article in the market and any person contravening this Section may be summarily removed by any Mahapalika Officer or Servant.”
Hence, it was since 1959, that the Nagar Nigham started issuing license, which were valid for one fiscal year and thereafter they were renewed after receiving the renewal charges. To collectively deal with the administration, the butchers from the Qureishi community established a foundation in the name of Quresh Welfare Foundation.