Cattle trade for slaughter: Supreme Court suspends ban across India

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Jul 12, 2017 06:49 PM IST

The Narendra Modi government on May 25 banned sale of cattle for slaughter and restricted cattle trade to farm owners.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended to all of India the Madras high court order that put on hold the Centre’s notification banning sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter, a move that had triggered howls of protest.

A file photo a cow shelter in Dhanbad, Jharkhand.(HT)
A file photo a cow shelter in Dhanbad, Jharkhand.(HT)

The Centre told the court the cattle-trade rules, which several states refused to implement, would not come into effect. It would revise the rules by the August-end after considering the objections.

“Needless to say that the interim direction issued by the Madurai bench of the Madras high court shall continue and extend to the entire country,” the bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and justice DY Chandrachud said.

The Modi government on May 25 banned sale of cattle, including cows, for slaughter and restricted cattle trade to farm owners, a decision that hit poor farmers and squeezed supplies to the country’s Rs 1 lakh-crore meat industry.

Rivals have accused the government of pushing a beef ban through the back door in keeping with the BJP’s Hindutva agenda.

The court told the petitioners that they were free to come back to it if they find the new rules wanting.

The top court is hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the ban that was put on hold by the Madras high court on May 30.

The ban has hurt mostly Muslim meat and leather traders who face mounting violence by cow vigilante groups. Farmers have also been deprived of a traditional source of income from selling non-milch and ageing cattle.

Most states have weekly markets where animals are traded and these markets are primary source of supply for meat traders.

The controversial rules sparked protests and beef fests across India with several states – such as Kerala and West Bengal – saying they wouldn’t implement the order as the government can’t dictate food habits.

Even some of the BJP’s allies in the northeast – where beef is part of the daily diet – have reservations.

One of the demands of the meat industry is the exclusion of buffalo from the list of animals governed by the new rules.

An NGO has argued that the rules framed under the prevention of cruelty to animals act are against public interest.

The petitions also noted that only state governments were empowered to make laws on cattle markets and fairs, which rendered the new rules arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional.

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    Bhadra is a legal correspondent and reports Supreme Court proceedings, besides writing on legal issues. A law graduate, Bhadra has extensively covered trial of high-profile criminal cases. She has had a short stint as a crime reporter too.

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