The Gujarat High Court in the matter of Patel Dharmesh bhai Naranbhai v/s Dharmendrabhai Pravinbhai Fofani held that the meat sellers and slaughterhouses do not have the unrestricted freedom to run their business on the ground of religious occasions if they are otherwise non-compliant with the food safety laws.
The court observed that the act of running such businesses cannot be permitted without the stakeholders complying with the applicable laws.
The court observed that all the meat shops and slaughterhouses were closed by the authorities as they failed to comply with licensing and regulatory norms, food and safety standards and other legal requirements. Therefore reopening of such shops and slaughterhouses cannot be permitted unless they fully comply with the norms and regulations.
The court also observed that the consumers of any food including meat and its products have the right to safe and hygienic food under Article 21 of the constitution and therefore the meat shops in slaughterhouses not complying with the norms and regulations cannot be permitted to be reopened.
The petitioner through a PIL sought to reopen such shops contending that the action taken by the authorities is a deprivation & violation of their right in article 19 (1)(g) of the constitution.
It was also contended that with Ramadan approaching the state should address the issue leniently.
The High Court rejected the said contentions and observed that the freedom under the said Article is not a complete or unrestricted one and compliance with food safety regulations which is in the public interest has to be done.
Thus in light of the above observations the court directed the state to permit the meat vendors & slaughterhouses to run the businesses provided they comply with the norms.