Kohima, Nov 28 (IANS) The Kohima bench of the Gauhati High Court has granted an interim stay to the Nagaland governments July 2 decision to ban commercial import, trade and sale of dogs and dog meat in the markets of the northeastern state, officials said on Friday.
An official of the high court bench said on Friday that Justice S. Hukato Swu issued the interim stay late on Thursday following a writ petition filed by Neizevolie Kuotsu and two others, pending the disposal of the plea.
The court had on September 14 given opportunity to the state government to file an affidavit in opposition with the direction; the government advocate told the HC that there was no reply from the state respondents.
The court asked the state respondents (government) to make all efforts to file their affidavit-in-reply and further listed the case after the winter vacation of the court.
The lawyers for the petitioners argued that if an executive exercise was made violating the basic rights of the citizens, the executive court orders could not stand the test of law.
The petitioners’ lawyers pointed out that orders to be implemented must have statutory backing.
The counsel further pleaded that the impugned order by the state government in July had been passed in the garb of Cabinet decision, being basically an executive order and devoid of legislative sanction and approval and that it was illegal, a lawyer for the petitioner said.
“The petitioners are traders dealing in import, trade and sale of dog meat within the jurisdiction of the Kohima municipality and have licences issued by the Kohima Municipal Council.
With the issuance of the impugned order, their business and livelihood have been adversely affected, with the pandemic situation prevailing in Nagaland only adding to their woes, the lawyers told the court.
Nagaland Chief Secretary Temjen Toy had tweeted on July: “The State Government has decided to ban commercial import and trading of dogs and dog markets and also the sale of dog meat, both cooked and uncooked. Appreciate the wise decision taken by the State’s Cabinet (on July 2).”
In the tweet, the Chief Secretary tagged BJP MP and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi.
The Nagaland government’s ban came into effect from July 4, four months after neighbouring Mizoram took a similar decision.
Dog meat is a delicacy among certain communities in the two northeastern states bordering Myanmar.
The Nagaland government had referred to the food safety regulations as the main reason for the prohibition, but the decision was believed to have been taken under pressure from animal rights groups in India and abroad.
Journalist and former parliamentarian Pritish Nandy had urged his followers to join a movement to ban the sale and consumption of dog meat in Nagaland markets.
Nandy had said in a tweet: “This is urgent. You can help make history by sending an email to Nagaland Chief Secretary saying Nagaland must stop dog markets, dog restaurants, and smuggling of dogs into the state. Eating dog meat is inhuman, not just illegal.”
Humane Society International/India (HIS/INDIA) had said in a statement that Mizoram is the first state in the northeast that has taken a step towards ending its dog meat trade by amending the law to remove dogs from the definition of animals suitable for slaughter.
The HIS/INDIA statement said that consumption of dogs is prohibited under India’s food safety regulations.
“However, the regulations are not enforced properly and thousands of dogs each year are cruelly and illegally captured from the streets or stolen from their homes, packed into plastic and jute bags with their mouth stitched or tied, and transported over many days to Mizoram,” HIS/INDIA said.
Frequent media reports also said that dogs were transported from neighbouring northeastern states and adjoining countries, including Myanmar and Bangladesh, and traded in Mizoram, Nagaland and other northeastern states.
Around 30 million dogs and 10 million cats are killed across Asia for human consumption annually, with the trade most widespread in China, South Korea, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and several parts of northeast India.