The Uttar Pradesh government on Saturday announced a ban on the production, storage, distribution, and sale of food products with halal certification. The Food Commissioner’s Office issued an order on Saturday, imposing the ban in UP “with immediate effect.” However, export items were exempted from the ban.
The government alleged malicious attempts to discourage the use of products lacking a halal certificate not only seek unfair financial benefits but also form part of a pre-planned strategy to sow class hatred, create divisions in society, and weaken the country by “anti-national elements”.
The move comes after the UP Police registered a case at the Hazratganj police station in Lucknow on Friday against some organisations for allegedly exploiting people’s religious sentiments to boost sales by providing “forged” halal certificates.
The case has been registered against organisations like Halal India Private Limited Chennai, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust Delhi, Halal Council of India Mumbai, Jamiat Ulama Maharashtra and others under sections including 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 298 (uttering words, etc, with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings), 384 (extortion) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property).
What are Halal Products?
‘Halal’ is an Arabic word for ‘permissible’ in English and stands in contrast with the term ‘Haram’ meaning ‘forbidden’. The two terms are used in the Quran and Islamic jurisprudence to designate categories of lawful and unlawful.
Halal and haram include acts and practices related to dietary rules, economic activities, and relationships and include other dos and don’ts. In a dietary sense, halal refers to all those food items which are made permissible by the Quran like all fruits, vegetables and poultry items. However, under Islamic law, there is a prescribed slaughtering technique for permissible animals. Haram on the other hand include food items, which aren’t meant to be consumed like pork, alcohol and other animals and reptiles.
When is a Meat Halal?
As per Islamic law, only a few animals are considered ‘halal’ or permissible to consume. In addition to that, those permissible animals (livestock or poultry) should only be slaughtered in a specific way.
The Quran categorically mentions the halal way of slaughtering to be used by Muslims, which includes a single cut to the jugular vein and the windpipe with a sharp knife, but not the spinal cord. In other popular methods used for slaughtering like the jhatka, the entire neck is cut in a single blow.
Apart from Muslims, orthodox Jews also consume food that is ‘kosher’, which means permitted in Jewish law. The kosher method is also similar to the ‘Halal’ method followed by the Muslims.
What is Halal Certification?
A Halal certification ensures that the food is prepared in adherence to Islamic law and is unadulterated. However, a halal certification not only ensures that the animal meat is obtained from the halal way of slaughtering but also ensures proper packaging, storage and processing in a proper way.
In India, halal certification is given by many private companies and organisations which certifies the food products permissible for Muslims.
As per a report in Hindustan Times, Halal certification was first introduced in 1974 for slaughtered meat and was extended to other products in 1993. Though. some of these halal certification bodies are recognised by the government, many others operate without any recognition.
Why the UP Govt Banned Halal Products
The UP government has made a series of allegations against Halal products and halal-certifying organisations.
The UP government said it recently received information which indicated that products such as dairy items, sugar, bakery products, peppermint oil, salty ready-to-eat beverages, and edible oils being labelled with a halal certification. Additionally, certain medicines, medical devices, and cosmetic products are reported to feature the halal certificate on their packaging or labelling, a government statement said.
The government said that these companies allegedly issued forged halal certificates to various companies for financial gains, fostering not only social animosity but also violating public trust. However, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust termed the allegations as “baseless” and said it will take “necessary legal measures to counter such misinformation”.
The complainant raised his concerns before the UP government over a potential large-scale conspiracy, indicating attempts to decrease the sale of products from companies lacking the halal certificate, which is illegal.
The UP government said that unrestrained propaganda is being disseminated within a particular section of society to discourage the use of products lacking a halal certificate, harming the business interests of other communities.
“Halal certification of food products is a parallel system which creates confusion regarding the quality of food items and is completely against the basic intention of the said Act and is not tenable under Section 89 of the said Act,” the order read.