The Bombay High Court today slammed the Mumbai civic body’s “erronous” online system for granting permission for animal slaughter in the city this Bakr-Eid after a petitioner claimed that some lawyers had managed to secure nod under fictitious names to sacrifice five goats inside a courtroom. The high court observed that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s online mechanism was “ridiculous” as it was granting permission “without any verification and application of mind” and directed it to take corrective steps, following which the civic body told the court that it will stop the process till Monday, the next day of hearing.
The BMC made the submission after a petition by a local trust questioned the way in which the civic body had been granting permission through an online system this year for slaughter of goats and sheep. To prove the point, the petitioner’s lawyer, advocate Sujay Kantawalla, produced copies of such permissions for Bakr-Eid that some lawyers from the court had secured against fictitious names and addresses.
On perusal of such permissions, the bench observed that the civic body’s online mechanism for grant of such permission was indeed erroneous, and “ridiculous”. “Thankfully, the permissions have not been sought in our names,” Justice Oka quipped in lighter vein. “We have been accused of many things in the past, but never for this (slaughter of animals),” he added.
The bench also observed that the civic body needed to take immediate corrective steps to set in order its system for granting permission for animal slaughter. “This is ridiculous. Some members of the bar applied for permission for slaughter at various office places and shockingly, were granted permission. Permission was even granted for slaughter inside this courtroom,” the bench said.
“This shows that the BMC has been granting permission without any verification and application of mind. “Our attention is also brought to the consequent violations under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, (which mandates that slaughter of animals can be carried out only at licensed abattoirs)” the Judges said.
The bench also observed that the corporation needed to scrutinise or re-verify the applications for which permission had already been granted through the online system. It directed the civic body to file a reply by Saturday explaining the corrective steps it plans to take. The corporation initially defended the online system, saying all applicants had to pass through a second stage of verification at the time of taking the animals out of the abattoir for slaughter.
It also questioned why the petitioners had approached the court just weeks before Bakr-Eid (which falls on August 22) when the online system became operational last month? The civic body, however, later relented and said the online system would be stopped till the next hearing, after the bench said that the civic body must concentrate on taking corrective steps instead of finding faults with the petition.
As per the plea filed by the Jiv Maitri Trust, the online mechanism allows citizens to fill up a form online specifying the number of goats or sheep they desire to sacrifice, their names, addresses, and some other details. And once the applicants hit the `submit button’, the BMC immediately issues a pdf document granting them permission and a temporary license for such slaughter without any actual verification of the details submitted in the applications.
On the previous hearing, Kantawalla had informed the court that two local lawyers had applied for and secured permission from the BMC to slaughter five goats each in the Esplanade Mansion, a heritage structure in South Mumbai. The petition also stated that the abattoir at Deonar in suburbs is the only place in Mumbai with the licence and facilities to carry out slaughter of animals. However, the BMC has been granting permission to individuals for slaughter of animals for Bakr-Eid at any place in the city without any “application of mind”,