Kohima, June 06: In a significant development, the Kohima Bench of the Gauhati High Court has nullified the ban imposed by the Nagaland government on the commercial import, trading, and sale of dog meat in restaurants.
The verdict, delivered on June 2, was based on the court’s finding that the ban order issued by the state’s chief secretary on July 4, 2020, was not within the appropriate authority’s jurisdiction.
The Nagaland state cabinet had initially implemented the ban on the commercial import and trading of dogs, dog markets, and the sale of dog meat, encompassing both cooked and uncooked varieties.
However, a single bench of the high court temporarily suspended the ban in November 2020 after the state government respondents failed to respond adequately to a petition filed by licensed traders operating under the Kohima Municipal Council.
The traders challenged the ban, questioning its legal basis and jurisdiction, particularly in light of the provisions outlined in the Food Safety & Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations of 2011.
The petitioners argued that the government’s notification was misinterpreted and relied upon the Food Safety Act. The court examined whether the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had exceeded its delegated powers by issuing a circular in August 2014, which referenced Regulation 2.5 of the Food Product Standards and Food Additives Regulation 2011.
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The court scrutinized sub-regulation 2.5.1(a), which defined “animal” in the context of animals, carcasses, and meat. Notably, the court observed that dogs or canines were not explicitly included in the definition of “animals.” The court emphasized that this exclusion was unsurprising, given that the consumption of dog meat is limited to certain regions of northeastern India.
While acknowledging that the petitioners depend on the transportation and sale of dogs and dog meat for their livelihood, the court emphasized that dog meat does not meet the standard for human consumption and is excluded from the definition of animals deemed safe for human consumption.
This verdict has sparked debate and mixed reactions among various stakeholders. Animal rights activists argue that the decision undermines efforts to promote animal welfare and combat the illegal dog meat trade. On the other hand, proponents of cultural and regional practices contend that the court’s ruling respects the local traditions and dietary preferences of certain communities within Nagaland and other northeastern states.
The court’s decision, overturning the ban on the sale of dog meat, marks a significant development in the ongoing discourse surrounding animal rights, cultural practices, and legal jurisdiction. It remains to be seen how this verdict will impact future regulations and policies related to the consumption and trade of dog meat in the region.