The Kohima bench of the Gauhati High Court has stayed the Nagaland government’s July 3 decision to ban the sale of dog meat in the state, The Indian Express reported on Sunday.

Justice S Hukato Swu said on Friday that the government’s order “may be stayed until the next returnable date”. The judge noted that the Nagaland government had not yet submitted its response to a petition filed against the ban by licensed dog meat traders.

The petitioners argued that their business and livelihood has been severely affected by the ban and the coronavirus pandemic. They said the chief secretary, who passed the order, was not the statutory authority to do so.

Procedural steps stated under the Food Safety Standards were also not followed, they added. “The procedure requires that on observation if any which is intended for sale appears to be not in conformity with standard rules would be subject to analysis scientifically and thereafter come to a finding that the particular food is either fit or unfit for consumption,” the petition stated. “All these procedural steps as mandated under the Act has been violated.”

The next hearing in the case will take place after winter break.

The ban was imposed in July as social media users and animal welfare organisations had expressed anger over the picture of the dogs, which were tied in sacks with their mouths shut with a rope. Politician and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi had called for a protest against the cruel manner in which the dogs were being treated and urged the police to stop smuggling of the animals.

Dog meat is widely consumed in parts of North East India and there are no formal laws to keep a check on the dog meat market. There are also no laws about consuming rabbits and monkeys.

In June, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, the country’s top animal rights organisation, had also urged the Nagaland government to immediately ban animal slaughter and enforce strict animal welfare laws. “The current laws in India are inadequate in punishing violent crimes against animals,” the organisation had said. “This is beyond abuse. We need to revisit laws.”

Also read:

  1. With dog meat ban, India is still trying to ‘civilise’ the Nagas
  2. Barking up the wrong tree: Why the debate on eating dog meat in India (and globally) is hypocritical