In what can affect the Bakri Eid festival in Bhiwandi-Nizampur area, the Bombay High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni on Tuesday ordered the civic authorities there not to operate the 38 temporary slaughter houses put up for facilitating slaughtering of animals. The bench said ordered police authorities to take appropriate action against those who would slaughter animals in these 38 temporary houses.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Jiv Maitri Trust through advocates Rajeev Gupta and J S Kini. The petition pointed out that the Bhiwandi-Nizampur Municipal Corporation (BNMC) has put up 38 temporary houses for facilitating slaughtering of animals during the Bakri Eid. It claimed that the slaughter houses aren't legal as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, doesn't provide for temporary or makeshift abattoirs.

"The statute only permits slaughtering of animals in recognised and licenced abattoirs. It says that no animal should be slaughtered in makeshift abattoirs," Kini argued.

Advocate Narayan Bubna for the BNMC pointed out that such an arrangement is done every year in view of the Bakri Eid festival. "This arrangement is in line with BMC policy, we are providing slaughtering facilities... Proper hygiene will be maintained and we will ensure that the health of citizens isn't affected," Bubna submitted.

"This arrangement is done as we have only five slaughter houses in the city," the counsel pointed out.

At this, the chief justice questioned if the temporary slaughter houses are permissible. "Does the law allow you (BNMC) to come up with temproary slaughter houses?" the chief justice asked.

"It is our mandatory duty to provide slaughter houses... The municipal commissioner has to decide slaughter houses and timings for the same," Bubna responded.

"Aren't there laws to register slaughter houses?" CJ Datta further questioned, to which, Bubna replied, "But that is only for permanent ones... we are doing this for one day... If we don't do so then there will be slaughtering at every house."

The bench while referring to the laws said, "It says no person shall slaughter an animal, within a municipal area, anywhere except for a recognised and licenced slaughter house. What meaning should be attributed to this rule?"

"Has the civic chief considered this rule?" the bench asked, to which Bubna responded in the negative.

"His (BNMC chief's) concern was we have permanent slaughter houses... But the temproary ones would be for a day," the civic body's counsel responded.

"No, these makeshift ones aren't required at all under the law... Is the civic chief above the law?" CJ Datta remarked.

Bubna, however, tried to convince the bench saying that the festival is tomorrow (Wednesday).

Countering the submissions, Kini said, "We aren't against the temporary slaughter houses but it should have an NOC from the state pollution control board. Doctors must be available at the slaughter houses."

The advocate further cited a circular by the state's animal husbandry department that declined to provide doctors at these 38 temporary slaughter houses.

Meanwhile, the bench referred to the orders of assistant commissioner, veterinary, Mumbai Division, who opposed the proposal for 38 slaughter houses.

Accordingly, the chief justice in his orders said, "These slaughter houses aren't recognized or licenced ones thus the arrangement is in the teeth of not only the rules of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals but also the decision of the Supreme Court in 2013 as well as the orders of this court."

"Despite the opposition by the assistant commissioner, yet the commissioner, BNMC on the special ground that pandemic is in control and without getting permissions from the state proceeded to pass the order," the chief justice said, adding, "Thus, we have no other option but to stay the operation of this order."

"We make it abundantly clear that no slaughtering should be allowed except for recognised ones and any violations if noticed, appropriate action should be taken by the police authorities," the chief justice added.

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