SC notice to UP on plea against ban on Manufacturing Food Products with Halal Certification

The Supreme Court on Thursday sought a response from the Uttar Pradesh government and others on a plea challenging the notification prohibiting manufacture, storage, sale and distribution of food products with halal certification within the state, except for items produced for export.

The November 18, 2023 notification was issued by the office of the Commissioner, Food Safety and Drug Administration, Uttar Pradesh, under the provision of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

The apex court issued notice to the state government and others seeking their responses on a plea filed by ‘Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind Halal Trust’.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta also directed that no coercive steps will be taken against the trust and its office bearers in connection with the FIR lodged in Lucknow in a case related to Halal certification.

Advocate M R Shamshad, appearing for ‘Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind Halal Trust’, told the bench that the petitioner has already joined the probe and furnished all necessary documents sought by police. Still, he claimed, the state police want to summon the president of the trust.

“We direct that no coercive steps be taken against the petitioner or its office bearers,” the bench ordered, while issuing notice on the plea.

Besides seeking quashing of the notification, the petition sought a direction to ensure that no coercive action was taken against the petitioner trust or its employees in connection with the FIR. The plea has also sought quashing of the FIR.

The bench said the plea would be heard along with two separate petitions raising similar issues.

On January 5, the apex court had sought responses from the Uttar Pradesh government and others on two separate pleas challenging the notification.

In its petition, the trust has said Halal is an Arabic term which means “lawful” and “permissible”.

“Halal means everything which is not prohibited. The opposite of ‘Halal’ is ‘Haram’ which means ‘unlawful’ or ‘prohibited’. This concept of prohibited and lawful cannot be confined to products of non-vegetarian items only. The concept of ‘Halal’ has been misunderstood by relating it with only the process of slaughtering of animals,” it said.

The plea said Halal certification is not only limited to India but is also applicable in various other jurisdictions like the United Kingdom, various European countries, Japan, Russia etc.

“The petitioner Trust was established in the year 2009 under the Indian Trusts Act, 1882, to inter alia work for Halal Foods products and for this purpose, petitioner also issue voluntary certificate for facilitating export of Halal foods, animal products, ingredients and other related product after proper inspection, testing, analyzing and examination as per established norms,” it said.

The plea claimed the allegations levelled in the FIR were completely baseless and malicious in nature.

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It said the trust is recognised globally and within the country for carrying an unblemished reputation for Halal certification.

“The issuance of Halal certificates by the petitioner trust for a range of products, including food (meat and non-meat) as well as non-food products is as per the law of the land and in no contravention to any law thereof,” it said.

The plea said there is no compulsion for any company, body and manufacturer to seek Halal certification for products by the petitioner trust under the law.

“Similarly, there is no compulsion for the consumers in the market to buy products with Halal certification and thus the process, both of seeking Halal certification and buying products with Halal certification, is entirely based on the choice of manufacturers and consumers. As such, the allegations against the petitioner of polarizing the market on communal lines is entirely malicious and concocted,” it said.

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