In what would come as a relief to the beef and leather industries in India, the Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended the Centre’s notification banning the sale and purchase of cattle at animal markets for slaughter.
The apex court said that the Madras High Court’s stay on the notification on sale of cattle including cows for slaughter will continue and would cover the entire country.
Responding to the decision, the Centre said that it is seized of the matter and is considering various suggestions on the notification. It also said that the amendments to the notification on cattle sale would be re-notified after considering suggestions.
On May 30, the Madras High Court Bench in Madurai had granted an interim stay of four weeks on the Centre’s notification while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition challenging the constitutional validity of the new rules.
The counsel appearing for one of the petitioners told the apex court that due to the notification, serious problems have cropped up in places like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and other nearby states.
One of the petitioners before the apex court had claimed that provisions in the notification were unconstitutional as they violated the fundamental rights including freedom of conscience and religion and right to livelihood.
The Centre had last month banned the sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter through an Environment Ministry notification -- 'Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017' under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
One of the petitioners, Hyderabad-based Mohammed Abdul Faheem Qureshi, had contended in his plea that the notification was "against the freedom of religious practice to sacrifice the animals" and imposing a ban on slaughter of animals for food violates the right to food, privacy and personal liberty guaranteed to a citizen under the Constitution.
He also claimed that states like Kerala, West Bengal, Tripura and Karnataka have said that they would not implement the Centre's ban as it would impact the livelihood of those involved in this business.