The Allahabad High Court has dismissed a plea by a former Uttar Pradesh minister to quash an FIR, lodged against him for allegedly running his meat processing business in Meerut without a valid licence.

A Bench of Justice Ashwani Kumar Mishra and Justice Rajnish Kumar also turned down former minister Haji Yaqub Qurashi's pea to quash the FIR against him and another person involved in the meat processing business in Meerut.

The FIR, lodged under various Sections 420, 269, 270, 272, 273, 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at Kharkhoda police station in Meerut district accused Qureshi of processing previously-stored meat and procuring fresh meat for his unit without any valid licence and after the expiry of his previous one.

The FIR also accused him of endangering people's health in the neighbourhood of the meat processing unit owing to the air pollution caused by the foul smell emanating from the unit.

Junking Qureshi's plea, the Bench held, "This prima facie gives an indication that the unit was indulging in unlawful act of processing of meat etc., without an authority of law".

Referring to the allegation of the foul smell lingering in the neighbourhood of the unit, the Bench said, "Allegations otherwise are that the storage was generating a lot of foul smell and was a safety hazard for the residents of nearby area. Once that be so, we would not be justified in examining facts so as to determine as to whether such allegations are correct or not".

Accordingly, no interference in the FIR is called for, the Bench held.

On the contention by Qureshi's counsel that his client had no direct role in running the industry, the bench said, "So far as the implication of petitioners in the matter, if they have no specific role in the case, is concerned, they can always avail of the appropriate remedy under the Code of Criminal Procedure."

The FIR was challenged primarily on the ground that the commercial activity of processing meat was undertaken on the premises after obtaining permission and license from time to time.

Quraishi's petition also argued that the only material which was available on the premises during the raid was the packaged meat which was kept there before 2019 but could not be removed on account of the Covid pandemic.

During a raid by the state authorities on Qureshi's meat processing unit in Meerut on March 31, 2022, a huge quantity of fresh raw meat along with bones was found along with another huge quantity of processed meat with other materials. The stuff was causing huge inconvenience to the public at large it was allegedly not kept safely and was generating an unbearable foul odour.

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With PTI inputs