Om Prakash v. State of U.P., AIR 2004 SC 1896

Author: Arsh Singh, Law Student at UPES Dehradun

Edited By: Gyanu Patel, Law Student at Amity University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh


In the landmark case of Om Prakash vs. State of Uttar Pradesh [2004] which was about the rule of banning the sale of non-vegetarian food, even eggs, in three specific towns which were considered to be religious and important pilgrim centers with a vast majority of vegetarian people and where tourist use to visit pilgrim. Due to the judgment passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court stating the prohibition of non-vegetarian foods in the 3 towns keeping the interest of the public at large, shopkeepers, including Om Prakash, were not happy with this rule which stated that they couldn’t sell non-veg food in certain towns in Uttar Pradesh.  The Supreme Court looked at the cultural and religious makeup of these towns and it turned out that many of the people there were vegetarian.  Considering the majority the court also considered the impact it would have on the local economy, especially because these towns attract many tourists and pilgrims. The court believed the ban made sense and stated that since the residents were mostly vegetarian and the towns relied on vegetarian tourism, it was fair and justified to restrict non-veg food. However, it is pertinent to note that the court also mentioned that they can still get their non-veg fix in nearby areas.  The court thought it reasonable to ban non-vegetarian cuisine because the majority of the population was vegetarian and the towns depended on vegetarian tourism. Still, they said they could satisfy their cravings for non-vegetarian food in the surrounding locations.

Keywords– prohibition, culture, religion, supreme court, majority, non-vegetarian.


Judgement Cause Title / Case NameOM PRAKASH V STATE OF UTTAR  PRADESH
Case Number3270 OF 1998
Judgement Date9 March 2004  
Quorum / Constitution of BenchSINGLE JUDGE BENCH
Author / Name of JudgesD.M. DHARMADHIKARI
CitationAIR 2004 SC 1896
Legal Provisions Involved1- CONSTITUTION OF INDIA- Article 19[1], Article 51-[A] [E], [F] 2-MUNICIPALITIIES ACT 1916- Section 241, 298


This case resulted from an appeal filed by Om Prakash challenging the power of the municipal board seeking whether it has the power to amend the law itself within its reach.  The 3 specific towns in the region were considered the main pilgrim centers, the demand for the ban was supported by several vegetarians after which the Municipal authority justified the ban on the sale of eggs based on representations from citizens, religious organizations, and institutions operating in the area.  The center’s purpose was to create and uphold a vegetarian atmosphere for the people of religious towns. The main issue revolved around whether the municipal made bye-laws itself which was considered to be in the affirmative. Keeping in the interest of the public at large the restriction was considered to be reasonable and power was within the limit.


Procedural Background of the Case

In the trial court, the prosecution presented its case, calling witnesses and presenting evidence. Om Prakash was allowed to defend himself, which included cross-examining witnesses and presenting his evidence.  The trial court found Om Prakash guilty of the charges against him and sentenced him accordingly. Unsatisfied with the trial court’s decision, Om Prakash appealed the conviction and sentence. The case was taken to the Allahabad High Court, where Om Prakash challenged the trial court’s decision. After reviewing the case, the High Court upheld the conviction and sentence, dismissing the appeal. Om Prakash then appealed to the Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court admitted the appeal, and both sides presented their arguments. The Supreme Court reviewed the evidence, the legal arguments, and the judgments of the lower courts.  The Supreme Court delivered its judgment in 2004, reported as AIR 2004 SC 1896. The court examined the procedural and substantive aspects of the case, including the handling of evidence and adherence to legal principles.

Factual Background of the Case

In this case, Om Prakash and the other shopkeepers were not pleased with the regulation/gazette notification that prohibited them from selling non-vegetarian cuisine in specific Uttar Pradesh towns. The court examined the religious and cultural composition of these settlements. It turned out that there were a lot of vegetarians there. Additionally, they took into account the effect on the regional economy, particularly given how many pilgrims and tourists come to these places. It concerned a law that forbade the selling of any non-vegetarian food in three certain municipalities, including eggs. The court found that the ban was reasonable.


I] Whether the Municipal Board of Rishikesh has the power to amend its bye-laws and impose a prohibition on the sale of eggs within the municipal limit

II] Whether the complete prohibition imposed on the trade of eggs within the municipal limits of Rishikesh can be held to be reasonable under Article 19[6] and violates the fundamental right of practicing trade guaranteed under Article 19[1]g


1] The counsel for the Appellant submitted that Egg trading is not undesirable or harmful to society, and it significantly impairs the appellants’ ability to engage in commerce as permitted by Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. In actuality, eating eggs is recommended as a way to boost public health since doctors see them as a nutrient-rich addition to other foods. Certain eggs are acceptable to various segments of society, including vegetarians, because they don’t contain any chicks and therefore, they are acceptable to every section of society.  The counsel for the appellant also stated that complete prohibition is arbitrary and irrational as Eggs cannot – be interpreted as being part of “meat” or “fish” because the eggs the appellants are selling do not hatch and give birth to chicks.

2] The counsel for the appellant submitted that through Section 298(2) List I Heading F and Section 241 of the Act, the respondent Board was not permitted to create a bylaw about “eggs” under Section 298 of the Act. It also submits that it does not appear that a special procedure was adopted by Section 298(1), which requires the adoption of a special resolution. As a result, the modified bylaw is unsustainable.


  • The counsel for the respondent submitted that these three specific towns are important pilgrim centers supported by the vast majority of vegetarians and tourists on auspicious days. A vast majority is in support of promoting vegetarianism throughout the region due to their worship and religion. The council also stated that there were earlier bans that faced no challenges and were accepted by the people thus the ban was considered to be reasonable.
  • The counsel for the respondent submitted that the Municipal Board has general authority under Section 298(1) of the Act to create bylaws to administer municipal affairs under the Act and for the promotion or maintenance of the president’s health, safety, and convenience; this general authority of the Municipality even extends to those subjects that have not been specifically listed under Section 298(2) List I Heading F of the Act.
  • The counsel for Respondent submitted that Section 241 of the Act deals with the requirement of obtaining a license to use any place as a market or shop for the sale of animals, meat, or fish intended for human food, or as a market for the sale of fruits or vegetables and such right shall be subject to the bye-laws made under Section 298(2) List I Heading F of the Act; the words used in this section as to “animals”, “meat” or “fish” are not followed with the word “only”, which means that for other similar articles also there may be a requirement for license; none of the provisions of the Act including Sections 241 and 298 provides that the Municipality cannot make bye-laws for imposing a ban on the sale of eggs within municipal limits.


SECTION 241 OF MUNICIPALITIES ACT 1916:‘’ Licensing of markets and shops for sale of certain articles.—(1) The right of any person to use any place, within the limits of a municipal area, other than a municipal market, as a market or shop for the sale of animals, meat, or fish intended for human food, or as a market for the sale of fruit or vegetables, shall be subject to bye-laws (if any) made under Heading F of Section 298.’’[1]

SECTION 298 OF MUNICIPALITIES ACT 1916: “Power of municipality to make bye-laws- A municipality by special resolution may, and where required by the State Government shall, make bye-laws applicable to the whole or any part of the municipal area, consistent with this Act and with any rule, for the purpose of promoting or maintaining the health, safety and convenience of the inhabitants of the municipal area and for the furtherance of municipal administration under this Act.”

“In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the power conferred by sub-section (1), the municipality, wherever situated, may in the exercise of the said power, make any bye-law described in List I below and the municipality, wholly, or in part situated in a hilly tract may further make, in the exercise of the said power, any bye-law described in List II below.’’

Prohibiting, subject to the provision of Section 241, the use of any place as a slaughterhouse, or as a market or shop for the sale of animals intended for human food or of meat or fish, or as a market for the sale of fruit or vegetables, in default of a license granted by the municipality or otherwise than in accordance with the conditions of a license so granted;”[2]

Article 19:All citizens shall have the right to

(1) freedom of speech and expression.”[3]

ARTICLE  51[A]:It shall be the duty of every citizen of India-

(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic, and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;

(f) to, value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture”[4]



  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court upheld the validity of the law prohibiting the sale of eggs finding it to be a reasonable restriction on fundamental rights guaranteed under article 19[1] read with 19[6] of the Indian Constitution.
  • The court noted the nature and the purpose of the right and of the restriction along with the urgency of evil which sought to be remedied and passed that all the present conditions must be considered in deciding the reasonableness of a restriction since these all 3 towns were major pilgrim centers with a ton of devotees and religious institution and therefore the prohibition of non-veg was justified in nature.
  • The Supreme Court in its judgment held that an absolute prohibition on the sale of eggs was considered to be reasonable as it maintained the fundamental right to carry on trade along with large public interest and thus was not violative of the act and because similar restrictions were there in 2 towns since 1976 without any challenge thus it was justified and in the public interest.


  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court in this case acknowledged the right to practice any profession or carry out any trade or occupation as a fundamental right which is secured under article 19[1] of the Indian constitution.
  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court stated that reasonable restriction on certain trades such as alcohol or things that are harmful to public health can even amount to an absolute prohibition andviewed that consuming eggs is often advised due to their nutritious benefits and that vegetarians can choose eggs that are suitable for vegetarians and do not contain chicks.


The judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court is moral in the public interest which is not only supported by a handful of the majority but is also reasonable and religious which will ensure the faith of the people in the judicial system and, at the same time will give a promising message to people to worship and to practice their religion. Compromises and cooperation are what can benefit the nation in moving ahead and abiding by the law of conflicting interests. Rishikesh is devoted to rigorous vegetarianism as a kind of worship and lifestyle. It is well known that people in several Indian groups abstain from all animal products, including meat, fish, and eggs. These individuals go on pilgrimages to Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Muni ki Rete in large numbers on a regular and irregular basis. People primarily congregate in the three towns for religious rituals and spiritual advancement. Respecting one another’s faith is a necessary way for all citizens to “promote harmony and spirit of common brotherhood” in a diversified society like India.  The three towns’ unique cultures and geographic location justify a complete ban on trade because tourists and pilgrims are the main sources of income for the local government and the residents of the three towns. The country can advance and uphold the law by cooperating and making compromises.


Important Cases Referred

Important Statutes Referred



[1] Municipalities Act 1916 (Act 02 of 1916), s. 241

[2] Municipalities Act 1916 (Act 02 of 1916), s. 298

[3] The Constitution of India, art. 19

[4] The Constitution of India, art. 51

[5] Afzal Ullah V State of U.P, AIR 1964 SC 264

[6] H.C.Suman v. Rehabilitation Ministry Employees’ Coop. House Building Society Ltd, (1991) 4 SCC 485

[7] Chintamanrao v. State of M.P, AIR 1951 SC 118

[8] State Of Madras v. V.G Row, AIR 1952 SC 196

[9] State of Maharashtra v. Himmatbhai Narbheram Rao, AIR 1970 SC 1157

[10] State of A.P v. McDowell & Co, (1996) 3 SCC 709

[11] Mohd. Hanif Quareshi v. State Of Bihar, AIR 1958 SC 731

[12]  Hashmattullah v. State of M.P, (1996) 4 SCC 391)