Cattle trade rules: SC to hear plea against Centre’s notification on June 15comment Updated: Jun 11, 2017 21:38 IST
The Supreme Court will on June 15 hear a petition challenging the Centre’s notification that bans sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter, a move that has triggered howls of protests.
The order was discriminatory and unconstitutional as it prevented cattle traders from earning their livelihood, Hyderabad-based lawyer Fahim Qureshi told the court on Wednesday.
The Modi government’s May 25 order bans sale of cattle, including cows, for slaughter and restricts cattle trade to farm owners, a decision that will hit poor farmers and squeeze supplies to the country’s Rs 1 lakh-crore meat industry.
Slaughtering of animals for food and sacrifice was part of the cultural identity of certain communities and was protected by law, Qureshi said.
Rivals have accused the government of pushing a beef ban through the back door in keeping with the BJP’s Hindutva agenda.
Cows are considered holy by many Hindus and have gained in importance since Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed to power in 2014. Cow slaughter is banned in states except in most parts of north-east India and Kerala.
Many BJP-ruled states have come out with stringent laws against cow slaughter. But the latest notification is causing some concern within, as the BJP looks to expand base in the Northeast and the south, where beef is widely eaten.
Several states have said they wouldn’t implement the order, as the Centre can’t dictate food habits.
Qureshi has challenged the very premise of the notification -- animal welfare.
The order violated the prevention of cruelty act that allowed sacrifice of cattle for religious purposes, said Qureshi, who is also the president of the All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee, a non-government organisation that works with weaker sections of society, including butchers and cattle traders.
He said the ban on trade in animals younger than six months and reselling of cattle within six months impinged trade, which was illegal.
The Supreme Court through a series of judgment has expanded the right to life to include right to livelihood and trade.
Qureshi has also questioned forcing a farmer to take care of an animal for six months and “maintaining it more better than his family members”.
Most states in India have weekly markets where animals are traded and these markets are primary source of supply for meat traders.
Beef festivals were held in several states to register protest. The Madras high court has stayed the order for four weeks as other states, too, threaten to challenge the ban, which they say is against the spirit of federalism.