Uttar Pradesh police have registered an FIR against the fraudulent labelling of products as ‘halal’ to gain profits.
The FIR, filed in Lucknow on Friday evening, has named multiple entities for playing with the ‘faith’ of consumers by obtaining fraudulent certificates that label numerous products as ‘halal’. These include Halal India Pvt Ltd, Chennai; Jamait Ulema-i- Hind Halal Trust, New Delhi; and Halal Council of India, Mumbai.
The case was filed under IPC Sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promote enmity between different groups), 298 (deliberate intent to wound religious feelings), 384 (extortion), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 467 (forgery of important documents), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 471 (using a forged document or electronic record as genuine) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief).
Halal in Arabic means permissible or lawful in Islam and pertains mainly to food prepared as per Islamic teachings.
It is notable, that the ‘halal’ category attracts non-Muslim consumers as well; and is thus a lucrative market. While food is the most significant component of the ‘halal’ category, a wide variety of products from dairy to processed foods and even cosmetics come under it. These include products like soaps, oils and honey.
The police report notes that companies are certifying products which do not fulfil the requisite parameters. The FIR alleges that the distribution of random ‘halal’ certificates could mean that the profits earned from the sale of these are being channelled into anti-national or terrorist activities. It blames companies of ‘weakening’ the nation through ‘criminal conspiracy’.
According to a market research report, the India halal food market is projected to exhibit a growth rate of 12.5 per cent between 2023 and 2028.
“The increasing awareness and understanding of halal food's ethical and hygienic principles, the rising investment in technology for better processing and distribution networks and the significant growth in organized retail platforms represent some of the key factors driving the market,” notes the report.
The central government had in October this year extended the deadline for accreditation of halal certification bodies and registration of export units till April 5, 2024.
This came after a notification by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) for halal certification process for meat and meat products while directing the existing bodies to seek accreditation from National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB) for i-CAS (Indian Conformity Assessment Scheme).
As per the guidelines, meat and its products are allowed to be exported as 'halal certified' only if they are produced, processed and packaged in a facility having a valid certificate issued by a body accredited by a board of the Quality Council of India.