A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) request has been recorded in the Madras High Court Bench in Madurai testing the Constitutional legitimacy of Rules 22 (b) (iii) and 22 (e) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulations of Livestock Markets) Rules 2017 informed by the Center on May 23 banning the sale of cattle for butcher in animal markets. The division bench of Justices M V Muralidharan and C V Karthikeyan concurred to hear the case on Tuesday afternoon after allowing to the request Senior Counsel M Ajmal Khan for an urgent hearing.
They have directed the central government’s Counsel K R Laxman to ensure the presence of Assistant Solicitor General G R Swaminathan at the time of hearing (2.15 pm). The activist based lawyer, S Selvagomathy, had filed the petition for the reasons that the legal rules were repulsive to the Parent Act itself since of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act of 1916 stating out states that it shall not be a crime to kill any animal in a manner necessary by the religion of any community. While talking about the PCA Act permits the slaughter of any animal as well as the sale of animals for slaughter, the petitioner said that the Central Government has no right to extend its rulemaking power in which they can ban the sale of animals in a market for the reason of slaughter.
She also challenged that the new rules cause offense to the right to freedom of religion guaranteed under Article 25 and the safety of concern of minorities under Article 29 of the constitution. The petitioner also added that slaughtering animals for food and offering sacrifice in religious places had been an essential part of the cultural uniqueness of the communities of our country. According to the petitioner, the ban on the sales of cattle for slaughtering in animal markets has an effect of interfering with the right to practice any profession or to carry on any profession, trade or business as guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Indian constitution. Ms. Selvagomathy said that the constitutional rules of banning of sales of cattle for slaughter amounted to extreme control and not a sensible restriction forced on the right to trade.
She added that the farmers or traders involved in the profession of sale of cattle, slaughter house owners and their employees would leave without their source of revenue as the rules define the term ‘animal market’ to be a marketplace or sale yard or any other premises or place in which animals were brought from other places and provided for sale or auction. The definition also means that any abattoir neighboring a market or a slaughterhouse and used in connection with it and any place adjoining a market is used as a parking area by the visitors to the market for parking vehicles and includes animal fair and cattle pound where animals were exhibited for sale or auction. “Therefore, by the impugned regulations, a complete ban has been imposed on the trade of sale or purchase of animals defined as cattle and it is in violation of the right to livelihood under Article 21 of the Constitution,” she claimed.
The petitioner said, “The right to choice of food (nonvegetarian or vegetarian) is a part of the right to personal liberty, conscience, and privacy. By imposing a ban on the slaughter of animals for food, the citizens with a choice to eat the flesh of such animals would be deprived of such food and it violates the right to food, privacy, and personal liberty.” While talking about the seventh schedule to the Constitution, the petitioner said that the issues concerning fairs, markets and the preservation or protection and improvement of livestock fall within entry 28 and 15 of the State list and therefore only the State legislature are empowered to enact laws. The central government has no rights in enacting laws and making constitutional rules on those issues.