Ban to regulate cattle trade for slaughter: Govt response in SC

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The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the Centre seeking its response on two public interest writ petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules 2017, regulating the sale of bovine animals for slaughter.

A vacation bench issued the notice on petitions filed by Hyderabad-based Mohammed Abdul Faheem Qureshi, advocate and president of the All-India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee, and one Sabu George that sought a declaration the rules are unconstitutional and illegal. The bench said it would not pass any interim order at this stage and posted it for further hearing on July 11.

Union Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that while the eating habits of people could not be controlled or regulated, there was a need to strike a balance as a large number of people in India revered cows. Speaking at media interaction to highlight his ministry’s work, he referred to Article 48 of the Constitution, under Directive Principles of State Policy, which states: “The State shall take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.”

Earlier, additional soilicitor-general PS Narasimha informed the court that the Madurai bench of the Madras HC had stayed the May 23 notification and that the stay applied to the whole of India. He said: “It is a misconception that there is a beef ban. The rules have organised the livestock market. The farmers now have the option of taking cattle to the livestock or a slaughter market. Whoever wants to purchase animals for slaughter, there is no controlled market and the rules don’t touch upon this. When we change the rules we might bring in regulation of the meat market.” Assailing the rules, the petitioners contended that these were inconsistent, ultra vires, overriding and outside the purview of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960.

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