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Court quashes Nagaland govt's order banning dog meat sale


Guwahati, June 7
A Nagaland government order prohibiting the sale and eating of dog meat in the state issued in 2020 was recently quashed by the Kohima Bench of the Gauhati High Court.

On June 2, Justice Marli Vankung ruled that the state government could not have prohibited the consumption of dog meat without a valid legal basis.

The Court order mentioned: "The prohibition of sale and consumption of dog meat, by the Executive branch of the Government, without there being any law passed by the legislation in relation to trade and consumption of dog meat is liable thus to be set aside even though the impugned notification dated July 4, 2020 is said to have been passed in accordance with a Cabinet decision."

The Court reasoned that there is no indication of any authority to issue prohibition orders in the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, which served as the foundation for the government's issuance of the order.

It also observed that dog meat was not covered by the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, though this was not 'surprising'.

"The meat of dogs is consumed only in some parts of the North Eastern states and the very idea of consuming dog meat is alien in other parts of the country. The thought of adding canine/dogs as an animal for human consumption under regulation 2.5.1(a) would be inconceivable, since consumption of dog meat would be considered unthinkable...

"The consumption of dog meat appears to be an accepted norm and food amongst the Nagas even in modern times, wherein the petitioners are able to earn their livelihood by transporting dogs and selling of dog meat," the court said.

The court emphasised that under long-standing precedent, the FSS Act's Commissioner of Food Safety -- not the State's Chief Secretary -- was the only person authorised to issue orders outlawing the sale of any meat within the state.

It was acknowledged that the management of the dogs intended for slaughter in the current situation was not entirely hygienic or in accordance with the Slaughter House Rules. The Court ruled that the same did not, however, support a blanket ban.

It stated that corrective actions can be done to enforce the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the Indian Penal Code's provisions in order to resolve the issue of dogs suffering before they are put to death.

In November 2020, the High Court stayed the Nagaland government order that had banned import, trade and sale of dog meat in the state.