The Uttar Pradesh government has banned the sale of “halal-certified” products. Apparently, cases have come to the state police’s notice where organisations that have nothing to do with the meat trade are issuing “halal” certification for any and every commercial activity, even to cosmetic product manufacturers, FMCG companies, hotels, and travel and tour operators.
It goes without saying that those companies that don’t pay up to legitimise this exploitative arbitrariness are blacklisted and lose business. This is presumably why even a tea company had to sport “Shariah-compliant” stamps on its tea bags. Bizarre as it may be, the Yogi Adityanath government’s crackdown has stirred up a storm in the proverbial teacup. The usual suspects are crying Islamophobia. The ban, they claim, is an attack on Islam.
Muslims, they say, can’t consume or procure products that aren’t manufactured out of ingredients or according to processes specified in Islamic law. Therefore, the ban deprives Muslims of their right to consume halal products restricting their religious rights.
While this argument might sound logical, it is anything but. The reason for the ban has nothing to do with curbing religious rights. No one is stopping Muslims from consuming kosher food, so to speak. On the contrary, the ban is an attempt at stopping the abuse of secularism.
The “Shariah-compliant” certification is handed out by religious organisations that have usurped the power of the state. These religious organisations have set up a parallel regulatory and certification system, giving them coercive powers to summarily blacklist or promote a particular business depending on whether they are deemed “Shariah-compliant”.
In India, only the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), a government body, can issue quality and suitability certificates to companies.
How can any secular state allow an organisation governed by religious laws to override a certification process that derives its sanctity from a secular constitution?
It is important to recall that the Supreme Courts declared Khap panchayats illegal precisely because they constituted a parallel system of belief-based jurisprudence.
Given the highest court’s penchant for stepping into Hindu religious matters, it is strange that the SC should have thrown out a petition challenging the writ of Islamic organisations to sell “Shariah-compliant” certificates.
Aside from the sale of “halal certificates” undermining the tenets of secularism, there is also the issue of such certificates violating the right to work. According to Islamic law or the Shariah, only a Muslim can carry out halal. Consequently, non-Muslims can’t find work in an industry that is estimated to be worth at least $100 billion. The stipulation as we can judge for ourselves disproportionately militates against the right to find gainful employment of several hundred thousand non-Muslims.
Animal rights activists also have a problem with Shariah certification. Readers will recall that the courts had moved to ban Jallikattu or bull racing in Tamil Nadu because the sport was considered cruel to animals. Yet, halal, which involves severing the carotid artery of a bull, goat, or chicken while it is still alive so the animal can bleed to death, is allowed unimpeded by the courts.
There are several other such legal anomalies that can be cited to justify why the Yogi government’s decision to ban the sale of “halal certificates” makes perfect legal sense.
Why then, one wonders, hasn’t the union government led the way to impose a national-level ban on the issuance of “halal certificates”, especially when it prioritises “sabka saath”?
source by: News18
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