The Gujarat High Court on Thursday told the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation that it could not stop the residents of the state from eating non-vegetarian food, Bar and Bench reported.
Justice Biren Vaishnav made the statement while hearing a plea by vendors whose carts were seized from the main roads by the Ahmedabad civic body last month.
The municipal corporation’s town planning committee had specifically mentioned that stalls selling non-vegetarian items will not be allowed along public roads and in the 100-meter radius of schools, colleges and religious places. A similar decision was also taken by municipal bodies of Vadodara, Bhavnagar, Junagadh and Rajkot cities.
On Thursday, the court told the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation that it cannot impinge on people’s food choices, Bar and Bench reported.
“What seems to be the problem?” Vaishnav asked. “You don’t like non-veg food, that is your outlook. How can you decide what I should eat outside? Tomorrow they will tell me I should not drink sugarcane juice because it will cause diabetes! Or coffee is bad for health.”
The petitioners told the court that municipal corporation officials ransacked the area where the vendors were selling foods and even impounded the carts in an “inhuman manner”, Live Law reported.
Advocate Ronith Joy, representing the vendors, said that non-vegetarian food was being sold in Gujarat for centuries and the Constitution did not ban its sale in the state.
Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation denied the allegations, saying that the vendors had filed the petition under some misconception, The Indian Express reported.
The civic body’s counsel Satyam Chhaya said that there was no drive to remove carts because they were selling non-vegetarian food. The civic body said it wanted the vendors evicted from the footpaths because they were posing a hurdle to pedestrian movement and vehicular traffic.
However, the court asked the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation if it was undertaking anti-encroachment drives under the guise of implementing an order given by the ruling party of the state, The Indian Express reported.
“If there are encroachments, this has to go…,” the court said. “But don’t just confiscate because today morning someone makes a statement that “from tomorrow I don’t want egg eateries around me”.”
The judge disposed off the petition while directing the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to address the cases of vendors who approach them for releasing their seized goods and materials.