The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to lift a Bombay High Court order staying a ban on meat imposed in Mumbai on 17 September, during a Jain festival, even as it held that nothing should be thrust on a particular class.
Refusing to intervene in the Bombay HC order, the apex court said such issues should be dealt with sensitivity.
A bench comprising Justices T S Thakur and Kurian Joseph, however, allowed petitioner Shree Tapagachiya Atma Kamal Labhdisuriswarji Gyanmandir Trust, a trust of minority Jains, to approach the Bombay High Court with its grievances.
"We make it clear that we have not made any observations on the merits of the case. It would be open for the petitioner to approach the high court, which would decide the plea within a period of six months. Petition is dismissed as withdrawn," the bench said.
At the outset, the court expressed its reluctance to stay the order of the high court, saying, "Half-a-day has already gone."
The Bombay High Court had, on Monday this week, stayed the controversial ban on sale of meat in Mumbai on 17 September (Friday).
Now, with the Supreme Court also approving the HC order, meat sale can continue in Mumbai.
However, the High Court, while lifting the ban on meat sale, had, refused to interfere with the ban on animal slaughter and closure of abattoirs on that day.
The High Court, hearing a petition filed by the Bombay Mutton Dealers Association challenging the ban imposed by the civic body in view of the Jain community's 'Paryushan' fasting period, said the stay will be limited to the Mumbai jurisdiction area.
A similar ban imposed in neighbouring Mira-Bhayander and Navi Mumbai municipal corporations in the adjoining Thane district, however, remains unchallenged.
The apex court also left it untouched as, according to it, ''nobody has come forward challenging the ban there.''
The state government had, on 7 September 2004, issued a circular saying that abattoirs were to be closed, slaughter of animals and the sale of meat banned for two days during the Jain community's 'Paryushan' fasting period.