A glimpse into the future?
MUMBAI: Its a battle between the shakaharis and the carnivores. An increasing number of city housing societies is refusing to allow non-vegetarians to rent or buy flats in their buildings.
The latest to join the list is the 45-storey Shreepati Arcade at Nana Chowk, touted as the tallest residential building in India. The recently completed tower is occupied mainly by people from the Gujarati, Sindhi and Marwari communities.
Although most Sindhis are known to eat non-vegetarian food, the ones who have purchased flats in this building are strict vegetarians, said M.N. Purohit, one of the two promoters of the Rs 100-crore project.
Added R C Chaturvedi of the Shreepati group, which built the complex, Once the society is formed, the by-laws will prohibit non-vegetarian purchasers.
Its a restriction thats becoming increasingly noticed in Walkeshwar, Babulnath, Ghatkopar and even areas like Lalbaug and Kalachowki, to which communities that observe vegetarianism have moved.
But, in addition to enforcing religious notions of purity, one property agent explained that vegetarianism sometimes is insisted upon with a view to keeping out members of the minority communitieswho generally happen to be meat-eaters.
Experts are divided about the legality of these dietary norms. Advocate Vinod Sampat said it would be illegal for a housing society to frame by-laws barring non-vegetarians from buying flats.
The Maharashtra Co-operative Society Act stipulates open membership for anyone, he said. Besides, he said, by-laws can easily be challenged in court.
But other experts said that societies are permitted to place reasonable restrictions on residents. If an overwhelming majority of members is vegetarian, they can pass a law prohibiting anyone from eating meat on the premises, one lawyer said.
But he added, Of course, you cannot discriminate against anyone on grounds of race, sex, religion, caste or creed.
For instance, although the bylaws of Tardeos Talmakiwadi co-operative housing society allowed only Kanara Saraswats to live in its buildings, the high court ruled that the society could not prevent a person from another community from buying a flat there.
The vegetarian zeal has been known to spill into the streets as well. Last year, BJP MLA from Malabar Hill Mangal Prabhat Lodha led members of the Jain community on a march to a restaurant at Napean Sea Road to protest its decision to serve non-vegetarian food.