The Gauhati High Court on Friday quashed a Nagaland government order passed in 2020 imposing a blanket ban on the sale of dog meat.

The ban had prohibited the “commercial import, trading of dogs and dog markets as well as commercial sale of dog meat in markets and dine in restaurants”. The decision led to an uproar in the state, especially on the claims that the prohibition overlooks Article 371(A) of the Constitution that gives Naga tribes the right to practice and maintain their customary law and social practices, reported EastMojo.

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In its order on Friday, the Gauhati High Court noted that under the Food Safety and Standards Regulation, 2011, the consumption of dogs is not mentioned. The court noted that this was “not surprising since the meat of dogs is consumed only in some parts of the northeastern states and the very idea of consuming dog meat is alien in other parts of the country”.

The High Court said that it could not find any grounds to not accept that dog meat is consumed by tribes in Nagaland and this has been recorded in several books.

“There is also a belief that dog meat is also to having medicinal value,” the order said. “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 High Court also said that the state’s chief secretary was not the right authority to issue the ban order.

The ban had been imposed after animal rights activist and Lok Sabha MP Maneka Gandhi raised concerns about the unabated killing and eating of dogs in Nagaland, reported The Indian Express. She had asked residents to email the state chief secretary to stop “dog bazaars and dog restaurants” in the state.

After the ban came into effect, three dog meat traders had challenged the order, arguing that it violated principles of natural justice and their fundamental rights under Articles 14 (equality before the law), 19 (freedom of speech and expression) and 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution.