The Uttar Pradesh government Saturday imposed an immediate ban on halal-certified food products across the state. The ban covers the production, storage, distribution and sale of all halal-certified food products except those meant for export.
The announcement comes a day after police in Lucknow booked a company and three organisations for providing “illegal halal certificates” to products sold in the state. The FIR named “other unidentified manufacturing companies and their owners, people part of anti-national conspiracy and people funding terror outfits”.
The FIR was lodged on a BJP youth wing member’s complaint which claimed that “some companies have started certifying products as halal in order to increase their sale among a community” and that the practice is like “toying with the public’s faith”.
Saturday’s order by the Uttar Pradesh Food Safety and Drug Administration Commissioner Anita Singh stated: “Under section 30 (2) (d) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and powers under the section 30 (2) (a) of the Act, with an eye on people’s health, it is ordered that within the borders of Uttar Pradesh, a ban is immediately imposed on production, storage, distribution and sale of Halal certified food products. This is except (for) products for export.”
The order claimed halal certification is a “parallel system” that “creates confusion regarding the quality of food items”.
It said: “Halal certification is being given on labels of certain food products like dairy products, sugar bakery products, peppermint oil, ready-to-eat savouries and edible oils etc. In 2006 in relation to food items, by repealing eight laws, the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 was promulgated. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, the apex body for food items, implements the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and its powers. Under this Act, standards of food items have been determined. The said Act and the regulations promulgated thereunder have preferential power over all other food laws under Section 89 of the Act. The right to decide the quality of food items is given in Section 29 of the Act. It is only the authorities and institutions who check the concerned standards as per the provisions given in the Act.”
On Friday, police booked Chennai-based Halal India Pvt Ltd, New Delhi-based Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust, and the Mumbai-based Halal Council of India and Jamiat Ullema. They invoked IPC Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 298 (intent to wound religious feelings), 384 (extortion), 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and 505 (statements that cause public mischief).
The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind called the allegations baseless and said it would “take necessary legal measures to counter such misinformation”.
“At Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind Halal Trust, our certification process aligns with manufacturers’ requirements for both export purposes and domestic distribution in India. The global demand for Halal Certified products is robust, and it’s imperative for Indian companies to obtain such Certification, a fact endorsed by our Ministry of Commerce, Government of India (refer to Ministry of Commerce Trade notification no. 25/2022-23),” it said.
In the complaint, Lucknow resident and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) office-bearer Shailendra Kumar Sharma wrote: “It has come to my notice that some companies have started certifying certain products as halal to increase their sale among people from a certain community. This is being done for monetary gains with use of deceit.”
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The complaint said: “These companies are preparing these certificates targeting one specific community, and the criminal act of reducing the sale of products without these certificates is being done. I suspect that unsuitable benefits from these actions are being handed out to anti-social and anti-national elements…”
“Even vegan products like beauty oil, soaps, toothpaste etc are being given halal certificates. Such products don’t need a halal certificate. It is also being advertised among a community that products without halal certificates given by these companies should not be used. This is causing loss to businesses of the other community… This is being done not just for economic and material gains, but also to create animosity in society among communities. It is part of a conspiracy to weaken the country,” the complaint said.
The complaint also claimed that “financial gains from the activity are being used to fund terror outfits”.