The Supreme Court of India has rejected a plea filed by an organization named Akhand Bharat Morcha, challenging the practice of the ‘Halal’ method of animal slaughter for food. Citing multiple sections of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the applicant said the ‘Halal’ method is painful for the animals.
The applicant said under section 3 of the PCA Act, every person must take reasonable measures to ensure the well-being of the animal(s) under his/her care. The plea further added that under section 11(1)(l), it is a punishable offense to mutilate or kill any animal, including stray dogs, using any other unnecessarily cruel manner. Under section 28, the killing of an animal in any manner in pursuance of the religion of any community or for any religious rites is exempted.
The counsel said that even if someone is a vegetarian, there should not be any animal cruelty. The theory of necessity was reiterated in the Jallikattu case, where it was said that the killing of an animal for food is allowed. Still, the method of killing the animal should be as humane as possible. The petitioner said, “The technique of ‘halal’ is to performed by a skilled person belonging to a particular community (Muslim). It needs the animal to be alive till the last drop of blood gushes out…this is much more painful than ‘jhatka’ which involves a strike to the backbone so tha animal is stunned and dead.”
Court called it a mischievous plea
A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul raised concerns over the plea and called is mischievous. Justice Dinesh Maheshwari said in the next plea, the petitioner may ask to ban meat. Courts cannot determine if a person should become vegetarian or non-vegetarian. There are two methods of butchering, Halal, and Jhatka. It is up to the person which one is to be preferred over the other. The court rejected the plea.
The imposition of Halal in India
There have been several cases where Halal has been imposed on the meat-eaters irrespective of their religious preferences. The practice of Halal is in itself discriminatory. As per Islamic law, only a Muslim can perform Halal slaughter, which means any arbitrator who wants to sell Halal cut has to employ a Muslim. In a way, the Halal slaughter method takes away the jobs of Hindu and Sikh butchers belonging to Khatik and similar communities.
Several restaurants, eateries, food chains, etc. use Halal meat without informing the customers about it. Some time back, McDonald’s received criticism and a legal notice from Indian customers for selling Halal only meat in India. It has to be noted that the company does not provide Halal meat in its restaurants in several western countries. Supply chains like Big Basket have to include Jhatka meat after facing criticism for selling only Halal meat.