Civic officials fined for allowing illegal slaughter houses

Mumbai: Observing that the majesty of law must be upheld and no one can be allowed to mislead the courts, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court recently imposed Rs one lakh each fine on five senior civic officials of the Jalna Municipal Council for "covering-up" the lapses on their part in allowing illegal slaughter homes to function from 2012.

A bench of Justices Ravindra Ghuge and Bhalchandra Debadwar said the amount of Rs five lakh would be deposited with the collector of Jalna, who would use the amount for Covid-19 pandemic.

The bench has further issued a directive to the authorities to spell out the names of those civic officials who have failed to maintain the records of animals slaughtered inside the illegal slaughter house till date.

The bench was seized with a PIL highlighting the nuisance of illegal slaughter houses in the district.

The PIL filed in 2013 sought regulation of the slaughter houses.

During the earlier hearings, the then civic chief and other officials including the engineer, sanitation department head etc had claimed, on sworn-in affidavits that the slaughter houses were functioning with proper clearances.

However, the documents placed on record by the authorities themselves revealed a different version. The records showed that the slaughter house wasn't functioning as per proper norms and was thus illegal.

The judges, had accordingly slammed the officials and had expressed their shock and displeasure over the manner in which they misled the court.

"We are of the view that the majesty of law has to be upheld and any person, howsoever high office he may hold, should not be permitted to mislead the court. We also find that various affidavits filed by these officers, they practically made us believe that the slaughter house, which commenced from 2015/16, was after following a due procedure laid down in law and was legally permissible," the bench said.

"It is only on account of the intervention of this court that these officers were exposed and the truth about their affidavits putting forth false statements, surfaced," the bench added.

The judges, however, refrained from issuing contempt proceedings. But clarified that their observations against these five officials must be made a part of their service book so that in future if they are accused of any wrong doing these strictures must be construed as "aggravated misconduct" on their part.

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