MUMBAI: "Fish dies the moment it is taken out of water. Hence, there is no death due to slaughter."
This was how the Maharashtra government responded today to a searching query by the Bombay High Court which while describing the meat ban in Mumbai as "regressive" sought to know the rationale behind permitting sale of fish, seafood and eggs.
Justices Anoop V Mohta and Amjad Sayyed were hearing a petition filed by Bombay Mutton Dealers Association challenging the meat ban imposed by the city's civic body and the state government.
During hearing of the petition, the court criticised the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and the state government's decision and said such restrictions cannot be imposed in a city like Mumbai.
"Mumbai city is cosmopolitan and multi-faceted where there is no sizeable amount of population from one sect. Hence can such a ban be imposed? In a city like Mumbai, there cannot be such bans. We are concerned about people who eat non-vegetarian food more. There are certain communities who do not eat vegetarian much," the court said.
"There is a progressive look attached with Mumbai. Such decisions are regressive in nature. What to eat is an individual choice. How can you restrict that?" the court said.
The court sought to know the rationale behind permitting sale of fish, seafood and eggs.
"How are fish and eggs different? Killing them is not violent? What is the rationale behind such a decision?" it asked.
To this, Advocate General Anil Singh said "fish dies the moment it is taken out of water. Hence, there is no death due to slaughter."
The court also felt that the ban on some days during the nine-day Jain festival Prayushan was absurd.
"What is the idea of having the ban on some days and allowing slaughter and sale of meat on other days? Is it that there is no sentiment on one day and the next day you are filled with sentiment? What is the idea behind this?" the court said.
The court also suggested that the government formulate a uniform policy throughout the state.