The High Court has prohibited slaughter inside houses for the time being
As per law, an animal can only be slaughtered in a licensed slaughter-house and nowhere else
Any violation of the court order will invite action from the Municipal Corporation as well as contempt of court
According to Section 403 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, an animal can be slaughtered only in licensed slaughter house. The Bombay High Court order has simply enforced this provision. Adv. Aditya Pratap
Last week on 6th August 2019 the Bombay High Court passed an interim order prohibiting the slaughter of animals inside houses. Referring to Section 403 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 the Court observed that slaughter of animals, whether ritual or otherwise, could take place only in licensed slaughter-houses. Accordingly, it has directed the Mumbai Municipal Corporation to strictly act against any illegal slaughter of animals in residential premises and has directed that it will hear the matter further.
While the order is short - just six pages, the Division Bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikar and GS Patel have directed the Mumbai Municipal Corporation not to issue any permission for slaughtering of animals in residential flats or premises. Given the fact that Mumbai is a densely populated city where people live in close proximity to one another, slaughtering of animals in residential flats cannot be permitted. Furthermore, many flats are small in size and inhabited by senior citizens and underage children, making the risk of disease even more acute.
Further, the Court also directed that if a housing society is situated less than one-kilometer walking distance from a licensed abattoir or slaughterhouse, no permission for any form of slaughtering (whether religious or otherwise) shall be granted by the Municipal Corporation.
Section 403 of the MCGM Act, 1888 - Animal Slaughter only in Licensed Slaughter Houses and Nowhere Else:
According to Section 403 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, the slaughter of animals can take place only in licensed and approved slaughterhouses, whether public or private. Such slaughterhouses must be duly approved by the Municipal Commissioner and must adhere to strict hygiene and cleanliness standards.
Effect of the High Court Order:
Any violation of the order will be treated as civil contempt within the meaning of Section 2(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. Further, the Mumbai Municipal Commissioner has the power to search and inspect premises where illegal slaughter takes place. Section 403(1)(b) states that no person shall, without permission, permit any place to be used for the slaughtering of any animal.
Going by this statutory provision, it is apparent that ritual slaughter of goats in a residential flat will be violative of Section 403 of the MCGM Act, 1888. In such cases, officers of the Municipal Corporation can enter such premises where the illegal slaughter is said to be going on. The penalty for such illegal slaughter of animals is a fine of up to Rupees One Thousand (Rs. 1000/-).
Will the Order apply outside Mumbai?
Currently, the High Court order only directs the Mumbai Municipal Corporation to ensure that no slaughter of any animal takes place within residential premises situated within its jurisdiction. For other cities, while the High Court order may not apply, residents can make use of Section 331 of Bombay (or Maharashtra) Provincial Municipal Corporations Act, 1949 which mandates that slaughter of animals can only take place in licensed slaughterhouses, public or private. Further, these slaughter-houses should be licensed and sanctioned by the Municipal Commissioner.
Thus Section 331 of the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporations Act, 1949 is analogous to Section 403 of the MCGM Act, 1888. Here too, the penalty of up to one thousand rupees can be imposed upon the perpetrator.
Effect of the Order:
With the High Court effectively declaring the law in its order, any contravention of Sections 403 of the MCGM Act, 1888 or Section 331 of the BPMC Act, 1949 might also be tantamount to contempt of court. Any action in violation of a court order amounts to the offense of 'civil contempt' under Section 2(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. An act of civil contempt is punishable with imprisonment of up to six months under Section 12 of the Act.
Since the High Court has effectively tasked the Mumbai Municipal Corporation with the enforcement of Section 403, any dereliction of duty will incur the wrath of the court in the form of contempt proceedings. Slaughter of animals in unapproved residential premises is a likely health hazard for fellow residents. Hence it becomes a fit case for invocation of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which the High Court did in its order.