In a significant move, the Uttar Pradesh government has imposed an immediate ban on the production, storage, distribution and sale of halal certified products within the state. The decision encompasses a wide range of items, including dairy products, sugar, bakery goods, peppermint oil, beverages, edible oil, certain medicines and cosmetic products. However, the ban excludes products intended for export. The government’s action follows the registration of a First Information Report (FIR) against several organizations accused of extortion and promoting enmity in the name of religion.
Reasons Behind the Ban
The government has expressed concern about the proliferation of halal certification beyond its traditional application to meat products. Products such as oil, sugar, toothpaste and spices are now being labeled with halal certificates, leading to confusion about food quality and potentially violating government rules. The ban aims to address these concerns and ensure that certification is done exclusively by authorized bodies like the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
Legal experts, including senior advocate Prashant Chandra, support the ban, asserting that all consumable items, including meat, poultry, packaged food and medication, should be certified only by government-authorized agencies. Certifications issued by private bodies in the name of ‘halal certification’ may be banned as they have the potential to create divisions between religions communities, contradicting the secular nature of the Indian Constitution.
Halal Certifications in India
Halal certification guarantees that a product complies with Islamic law and is free from adulteration. In India, government institutions like the FSSAI and the ISI are authorized to certify food products. However, private bodies, including Halal India Pvt. Ltd. And Jamiat Ulama Hind Halal Trust, have been involved in issuing halal certificates. The state government argues that the introduction of halal certification for various non-meat products has led to confusion and is against established regulations.
Public Reaction and Opposition Stance
The Hindu Janajagriti Samiti has been actively campaigning against halal certification for years, emphasizing its illegality and advocating for a nationwide ban. The Samajwadi Party, while acknowledging the potential revenue loss from meat exports, expresses readiness to support the government’s decision if it is implemented.
Legal Petition and Industry Response
Advocate Vibhor Anand had filed a petition in the Supreme Court in 2022 seeking a complete ban on halal products, claiming that the fundamental rights of the majority were being infringed upon for the sake of a minority. The Indian Industries Association (IIA) has indicated that the industry will comply with the state government’s decision, with any losses confirmed to the packaging of goods.