The Bombay High Court on Monday granted a stay on the controversial ban on sale of meat here on September 17, but declined to lift the bar on animal slaughter on that day.
The high court was hearing a PIL filed by Bombay Mutton Dealers' Association challenging the ban imposed in the wake of Jain community's 'Paryushan' festival.
A division bench comprising Justice A.V. Mohta and Justice Amjad Sayyed said the stay would be limited to Mumbai jurisdiction area only.
A similar ban has been imposed in the adjoining Mira-Bhayander and Navi Mumbai municipal corporations in Thane district, but the court said it was not concerned about it as nobody from there has challenged the ban in those cities.
Justice Mohta and Justice Amjad Sayyed said in their order: "We are staying the ban on sale of meat on September 17. But we are not interfering with the ban on slaughter of meat and closure of abattoirs on that day."
The judges further observed that although the Maharashtra government issued a circular in 2004 banning meat sale for two days during the Jain festival, it was never fully implemented in its true spirit.
It said that in the 2004 circular the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had never insisted on ban on sale of meat, though it insisted on ban on slaughter of animals.
It added that there were inconsistencies in the stand of the BMC and the state government on the issue.
"We are going only by the law and not dealing with it on sentiments or political things," the judges declared, referring to the strong opposition by most political parties on the ban.
The HC wondered why fish and eggs were kept out of the purview of the ban, and why only mutton and chicken were included.
The petition has now been posted for final hearing after four weeks.
The BMC had told the high court last Friday that it had withdrawn its orders of meat ban on September 13 and 18.
However, a separate ban imposed by the state government continued for September 17.