HC gives UP 10 days for action plan on slaughterhouses

The Allahabad High Court has come down hard on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's crackdown on abattoirs in the state, saying that the choice of food and trading in foodstuff was part of an individual's right to life.

The court's Lucknow bench also gave the UP government 10 days to draw up a plan so its crackdown on illegal abattoirs did not deprive people of food or livelihood.

The bench said that different food habits had flourished in UP and they were part of the state's secular culture.

The court was responding to a petitioner who sought directions from the government to renew his meat shop licence as the delay was preventing him from earning a livelihood.

Justices Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Sanjai Harkauli said on Tuesday, ''To provide an immediate check on unlawful activity should be simultaneous with facilitating the carrying on of lawful activity, particularly that relating to food, food habits and vending thereof that is undisputedly connected with the right to life and livelihood.''

The state government told the court there was no plan to ban consumption of meat or to close legal slaughterhouses.

The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday denied any "overzealous" crackdown by authorities on abattoirs in the state and stated there would be no compromise on illegal slaughterhouses.

Health minister Siddharth Nath Singh, who briefed the media after a cabinet meeting chaired by chief minister Yogi Adityanath, said that action will be taken against all illegal abattoirs in the state. "It has been made clear in the past and is being reiterated again that action will be taken against slaughter houses which do not adhere to the guidelines prescribed by the National Green Tribunal in letter and spirit," he said.

The government also made it clear that there will be no harassment of people involved in the meat trade who are following guidelines and have valid licenses.

There has been a massive crackdown against slaughterhouses across the state after the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party government came to power last month. The BJP had promised to shut down all illegal slaughterhouses in its state assembly elections manifesto.

The action created a furore among meat eaters in Uttar Pradesh with the meat traders downing their shutters.