DIMAPUR, JUNE 5: After nearly three years of legal tangling, the Kohima Bench of Gauhati High Court delivered a verdict quashing the Nagaland Government order that had banned the commercial import, trading of dogs and dog markets as well as commercial sale of dog meat in markets and dine-in restaurants.
In a judgment passed on June 2, Justice Marli Vankung ruled that the Chief Secretary of Nagaland was not the appropriate authority to issue said order dated July 4, 2020 when section 30 of the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 provides for appointment of a Commissioner of Food Safety “for efficient implementation of food safety and standards and other requirements laid down under the Act”.
“It is seen that the petitioners are said to have an Import/Export permit, dated June 3, 2020, issued by the Kohima Municipal Council, which allows the petitioner to import dogs to Kohima and the petitioners have been earning their livelihood by selling dog meat for the past many years. The impugned notification dated July 4, 2020, as such, can be said to affect the petitioner’s earning capacity. Fundamental Rights under Article 19(1) (g) and Article 21 of the Constitution to earn his livelihood and the freedom to consume food of his choice however can be restricted by reasonable restrictions prescribed by law.
“The prohibition of sale and consumption of dog meat, by the Executive branch of the Government, without there being any law passed by the legislation in relation to trade and consumption of dog meat is liable thus to be set aside even though the impugned notification dated July 4, 2020 is said to have been passed in accordance with a Cabinet decision”, the order stated.
Justice Vankung noted that Nagaland Government, under Section 30 of the FSS Act, had appointed the Commissioner& Secretary of Health & Family Welfare as Commissioner of Food Safety for the State to implement the provisions of the Act within the State.
She also remarked that from the photos submitted by the respondents People for Animals and Humane Society International/India ~ two NGOs working for animal welfare ~ it appeared that that the dogs meant for slaughter have been subjected to much discomfort, pain and suffering.
“The standards required to be maintained in slaughterhouses as per the prescribed standard under chapter IV of the Regulation, 2011 with specific hygienic and sanitary practices to be followed by Food Business Operators engaged in the manufacture, processing, storing and selling of meat and meat products and Prevention and Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules 2001, does not appear to have not been followed.
“However the above observations cannot justify order dated July 4, 2020 issued under the Food safety & Standards Act, 2006 and Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulation, 2011, banning the commercial import, trading of dogs and dog markets as well as commercial sale of dog meat in markets and dine-in restaurants. Instead remedial steps can be taken for enforcing the various provisions of law under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the Indian Penal Code”, the order stated.
Also, Justice Vankung took note of the submission by the Counsel for said respondents that various scientific research papers/articles in countries like China and African countries have shown that the dog meat trade endangers the human population due to risk of diseases like Rabies and Trichinella infection as well as increased antibiotic resistance.
“This is contrary to the belief that dog meat has medicinal value. Awareness programmes should be organised by the State respondents on such issues”, she stated.
According to Court records, a group of dog meat traders, licensed under the Kohima Municipal Council, had filed a writ petition on September 2, 2020 challenging said Government order.
(Page News Service)