THE PARADOXICAL BAN
Recently the Maharashtra Government had imposed a meat ban, with a view of upholding the sanctity of the Jain festival of Paryushan. However relaxation in beef ban was denied, to the Muslim festivity of Bakri Eid, wherein slaughtering is an important irrevocable activity.
In my personal opinion, while there may seem some sort of discrepancy of governance, the two parallels of festivals and bans present quite a paradox.
Because, while on one hand, rules are being made “out of respect” (as they say) to please a certain community, which is on vegan diet, by mandating a prohibition of a non-vegetarian element seems right to the court of law, but on the other hand, the recent rules framed, much opposed though, have no flexibility whatsoever, in the eyes of the same court of law, when it comes to the need of the festival of a different community.
Does this mean that there are intentional attempts being made to weaken the already strained relations between the Muslim and the Hindu?
Well, that’s a little far-fetched conclusion to draw in my opinion. Though it is what logically flows, if one is ill-informed and unaware of the past with respect to this issue.
My article, thus, intends to present the status of the bans in dispute, in relation to the said festivals.
Let’s get into a brief detail of these festivals, in discussion:
- Paryushana is an eight-day festival, also regarded as the king of all festivals when it comes to Jains and thus is known as Parvadhiraj. It is marked by severe penance observed by the Jains all over the country, who during this period avoid violence and eat of vegetarian food.
- While Bakri Eid, also known as Eid ul Adha, is a three-day festivity of the Muslims, wherein they slaughter animals, such as sheep, lamb and even bulls, to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience and submission to Allah (God).
Now the much-hyped Bans:
- The recent controversy on Meat ban is a recent one, while the ban is perse a pretty old one. Ban on meat during Paryushan dates back to 1964, when the then Congress-ruled government had enforced it through a resolution for just one day, which extended by another day in 1994, and the same was further extended by two days in 2004, under the aegis of the Congress-NCP Government led by Vilasrao Deshmukh.
(So why the hullaballoo now in BJP-led states, over this ban, when it has circa 50 year old Congress-induced legacy. However it suffered from the vice of non-implementation under the earlier regimes, furthermore when it is finally implemented, it is on the face of multiple bans in restrictions-struck states.)
- The Beef ban is something which has been limelight for quite some time, has criminalised sale and possession of beef and slaughter of bulls, under the Maharashtra Preservation of Animals Act, (post 2015 amendment) making the guilty liable to a jail term of 5 year and a fine of upto Rs. 10,000. Prior to the amendment to the said act, slaughter of “no longer ‘useful’” bulls was allowed. However the amendment has revamped the status of beef and bull slaughter in Maharashtra.
(The amendment being of recent origin, has taken away from the Muslim Community the legality of slaughtering bulls for their festival, which was not the case last year. Thus the disparity now and to add to this is the mandate of the Bombay High Court that it was “not inclined to grant any drastic interim relief at this stage which would amount to a stay on Section 5 of the Maharashtra Prevention of Animals (Amendment) Act”.)
While, I am of the view that in the spirit of upholding fairness and equality, beef ban should be relaxed for the Muslim community, and such a ruckus not be created over an already existing meat ban, the Supreme Court has in its own way hinted (said it all, in fact) that “spirit of tolerance” is of paramount importance.
Submitted By –
BALLB – II, ILS Law College, Pune