The prohibition of halal products in Uttar Pradesh is unjustified and contradicts the principles of equality in the Constitution. The stated reason is corruption in the certification process, but instead of an outright ban, addressing the issue lies in regulating and disciplining the certifying agencies. Strict methods can be enforced to ensure credible certification without impeding the availability of halal products. Various religions, including Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity, have dietary guidelines, and while they may not always align with scientific scrutiny, they are respected within their communities. Drawing parallels, the ban on cow slaughter existed in Kashmir, a Muslim-majority state, long before its enforcement in other regions.
Halal certification, considered a service rather than a business, is imperative for meat exports to Arab and other Islamic nations, with India being a significant beef exporter. Interestingly, many meat-exporting units are owned by Hindus and Jains, emphasising the diverse ownership in the industry. Halal certification is big business, especially since Muslims, the main users of halal products, are estimated at 1.8 billion, nearly a quarter of the world's population. Certifying agencies estimate that the worldwide halal trade is worth nearly $3.5 trillion. Halal certification involves a prayer during slaughter, adapted in industrial settings using technology like tape recorders. While opinions on slaughter methods vary, the focus should be on whether they are animal-friendly. The state need not engage in debates over jhatka or halal but leave such decisions to the individuals or communities concerned.
A ban on halal meat would infringe on the freedom of choice for those who follow the practice. Complaints about the UP government's harsh treatment of the minorities in law enforcement add to concerns, with the halal ban being viewed as another attempt to interfere with their religious practices. India, as a secular and multi-religious nation, upholds the right of individuals to choose their food, and state intervention in such matters is unnecessary. The withdrawal of the ban, enforced merely because of a solitary criminal case in Lucknow, would be a step towards preserving individual rights and promoting a more inclusive society. Rules must not only avoid discrimination but also be perceived as unbiased, adhering to the time-tested principle that "Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion."