Lucknow: The Allahabad High Court has asked the Yogi Adityanath government to draw up a plan to ensure that its crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses does not encroach upon people's right to food and livelihood.
A Lucknow bench of justices Amreshwar Pratap Shahi and Justice Sanjay Harkauli on Monday said that food and food-related habits are undisputedly associated with the right to life, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Responding to a plea by a meat-seller, the court reminded the government that it cannot just crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses while neglecting its job of providing and licensing legal supply of meat.
Focusing on the fundamental rights of citizens mentioned in the Constitution, including Article 19 (the freedom to practice any profession) and Article 21 (the protection of life and liberty, the court said there is freedom to eat any healthy foodstuff and nobody has right to deter the food choices.
The court observed, "Health, culture, personal food habits, socio-economic status of society, availability of foodstuff at affordable prices, the convenience of availability, contents, quality and strength of foodstuff essential to life, and a balance of such competing rights under the secular umbrella of the Constitution are all issues that need deliberation before any overt or covert action is taken.
"It should not appear to be abrupt for those who are at the receiving end and should not be legally unconstitutional."
The court has listed the matter for April 13. Soon after assuming office, the Yogi Adityanath government, acting on its 'sankalp parta', had ordered crack down on illegal slaughter houses.
The government claimed that the restriction would only be on illegal slaughter houses in compliance with National Green Tribunal.
Meat traders went on strike against it which was called off on Sunday after a meeting between Adityanath and the meat sellers' association.