MUMBAI: A key municipal body today withdrew its ban on slaughter and sale of meat here for two days, following widespread protests and also criticism from the high court which said such restrictions cannot be imposed in a city like Mumbai.
The Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation told the Bombay High Court that it has decided to withdraw its September 1 circular imposing a ban on slaughter as well as sale of mutton and chicken in the city on September 13 and 18 (during the Jain fasting Paryushan) "keeping public interest and the sentiments of Mumbaikars in mind". While the civic body had announced the ban for September 13 and 18, the state government had banned it for September 10 and 17. The civic body's decision would mean that the city would now go without meat only on September 17.
On the first day of ban on Thursday, Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) openly defied the measure with its workers selling chicken meat in the busy Dadar area.
The Opposition Congress and NCP also resented the ban, accusing the ruling BJP of pressing it with political motives.
The MCGM, where Shiv Sena and the BJP share power, held a special council session today to discuss the vexed issue and adopted a unanimous resolution for withdrawal of the ban.
The BJP, though miffed at the ally taking it to the street, supported the resolution along with other parties in the council.
Later, the MCGM counsel informed the Bombay High Court of the decision during the hearing of a petition filed by Bombay Mutton Dealers Association challenging the ban.
The court, which yesterday took a critical note of the order and sought the state's response on it, made some sharp observations today as well against the civic body and the government holding that such a restriction could not be imposed in a city like Mumbai.
"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.
Suggesting that the government formulate a uniform policy on the ban, the court sought to know "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?" and posted the matter for orders on September 14. ]
State BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari, in an apparent dig at ally Shiv Sena, said the controversy over the meat ban was aimed at maligning the party's image as the state government had nothing to do with the decision.