Centre hasn’t banned cow slaughter or beef sale, only mass sale, says Kerala HC
The Kerala high court on Wednesday dismissed a petition challenging a central government order regulating sale of cattle, saying it did not put a blanket ban on cow slaughter.
The development came a day after the Madurai bench of the Madras high court put a four-week stay on the notification that outlawed sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets and triggered a political storm in India.
“...There is no ban on slaughter or sale of beef. What has been said in the new order is that mass sale of cattle for slaughter through the cattle market is banned,” the Kerala high court’s chief justice Navniti Prasad said.
When advocate general CP Sudhakara Prasad pointed out the ruling of the Madurai bench of the Madras high court that stayed the new order, the chief justice expressed surprise.
However, the petitioner, a Congress leader, argued that as preservation and protection of cattle came under the State list, only the state government has the power to make any regulations on cattle.
The Centre had encroached upon the power of the state government, he said, adding that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA) allowed slaughter of animals for human consumption.
With the chief justice taking a strong stand, the petitioner said he was withdrawing the petition. The court agreed.
The court will take up two more petitions questioning the new notification.
Critics say the new rule violates individual rights and will hurt millions of cattle and meat traders.
Regulating cattle trade is a state subject but animal welfare is overseen by the Centre.
The new rules didn’t amount to a blanket ban on cattle trade or their slaughter. But the move was expected to choke supplies to the country’s Rs 1-lakh crore meat and allied industries that source about 90% of their requirements from animal markets.
Activists and opposition political parties say the rule discriminates against Muslims, Christians and lower-caste Hindus who rely on the cheap meat for protein.
(With agency inputs)