Madras HC Stays Ban On Animal Slaughter, It Can Embarrass Modi Govt

On Tuesday, the Madurai bench of Madras High Court has granted a four-week stay on the implementation of rules banning the sales and purchase of cattle at animal markets, which was notified by the central government. A division bench headed by M V Muralidharan and C V Karthikeyan issued the interim order on various petitions recorded by S Selvagomathi, a resident of Madurai and Asik Elahi Baba, who came from Kalimanglam near Madurai. The judges said, “It cannot be so exercised as to bring into existence substantive rights or obligations or disabilities not contemplated by the provisions of the act.”

The court said there was a significant strength in the disputes made by the senior counsel for the petitioners for permitting the interim relief required. The judges were in a disagreement with the Assistant Solicitor General that a conjecture was on the side of Central government when that particular was commenced not by Parliament, but by Executive. The direction for the Center challenged that the goal of the notification was to have a control on animal markets. On the other hand, the Court has issued the notices to both Center and State government to respond to it in four weeks and has stayed the Center’s order.  As per the petitioners, the new Regulation of Livestock Market Rules must be canceled as the provisions have gone against the constitution, “breached the cardinal principle of federalism” and it’s conflicting to the Parent legislation – Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

The petitioners also added that the right to choice of food (non-vegetarian or vegetarian) is part of the individual’s right, privacy, and liberty. “Against the fundamental rights of citizens, and the right to food and its choice is a fundamental right,” said the petitioner Selvagomathi against the Centre government. The petitioners claimed that since the notice was associated with food, it must have been approved by the Parliament. The petitioners said, “The slaughtering of animals for food, the food… made out of such animal flesh and offering the sacrifice of animals are part of the cultural identity of most communities in India, protected under the Constitution.” They also said that the new rules were a troublesome interference with the liberty of traders and business beneath the constitution. By saying the order “unreasonable and unconstitutional”, the petitioners said the government order would affect “severe food scarcity and famine since there is no alternative, adequate quantity of food provided by the state.”

The Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamta Banerjee said on Monday that her government would not accept this order and would also “challenge it legally and constitutionally”. Opposing the ban, the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appealed to his counterpart in all states to object to the “covert attempt to usurp the powers of the state legislature in the guise of rules under a Central Act.” Talking about the Regulation of Livestock Market Rules, said under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act last week, “no person shall bring a cattle to an animal market unless, upon arrival, he has furnished a written declaration signed by the owner of the cattle or his duly authorized agent… stating that the cattle has not been brought to the market for sale for slaughter”.

“…Where an animal has been sold and before its removal from the animal market, the Animal Market Committee (to be formed in every district) shall… take an undertaking that the animals are brought for agricultural purposes and not for slaughter,” another provision notifies this. According to the rules, it is required the Animal Market Committee to make certain that the buyer of cattle is not going to further sell the animals for slaughter.

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