The Gujarat High Court on Monday admonished the State government for not acting against meat shops which are running without proper licenses [Dharmendrabhai Pravinbhai Fofani vs State of Gujarat]..A division bench of Chief Justice (CJ) Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh J Shastri took exception to the 'soft peddling' attitude of the State against such shops and sought to know why the government was hesitant to take action against the wrong doers. "Why is the State hesitating to take action against those shops which do not have licence and are selling unstamped meat? In fact, you don't take action against so many things. Even against helmetless persons. We see day-in-and-day-out no one wears a helmet. Is wearing a helmet not a rule? We will take suo motu cognizance on this issue too," a miffed Chief Justice remarked.The bench referred to the affidavits filed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and also the Urban Development Department (UDD) of the State and noted that the same did not indicate proper data especially with regard to the number of shops against whom the authorities have taken action as per law. "This soft peddling attitude on the part of the State is not acceptable. If no reasonable steps, as is expected of a welfare State, is taken, the Secretary, UDD shall appear in person as the repeated affidavits filed would indicate that the State machinery is being pushed only at snail's pace," the CJ further remarked.With a hope that by next hearing the State would take punitive actions against erring shops, the bench adjourned the hearing for three weeks..The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking implementation of the Supreme Court judgment and also the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which mandate that animals be slaughtered only in licenced slaughter houses. The Act prohibits killing or slaughtering of animals anywhere other than slaughter houses. As per the PIL petition, thousands of shops across Gujarat have been selling 'unstamped' meat, which would mean meat not procured from slaughter houses but procured by killing animals in the local shops only.The bench noted from the report filed before it that of the 4,323 shops surveyed by the respective District Legal Services Authority (DSLA) over 2,602 shops do not having licence and 3,621 shops are selling unstamped meat.The report further indicated that a total of 2,507 shops are carrying out their business in unhygienic conditions."They are selling the meat in open? And you (State) are doing nothing? Don't you understand how serious issue this is? The meat is being sold at an unhygienic place. It is ultimately going to affect the citizens," the bench observed.From the affidavit filed by one Hitesh Rawat, joint commissioner, FDA, the bench noted that out of the total 2,602 shops that are running without a valid licence, the authorities have launched a prosecution only against 1,108 shops.The bench has ordered the authorities to take a stern action against such shops and also decide on shutting down such shops by the next date of hearing. Senior Advocate Asim Pandya appeared for the petitioner.