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31 May 2017

HC stay on cattle sale ban - IIT scholar assaulted, beef-protest link suspected

A photograph sent by PTI and identified by the news agency as
that of "a student of IIT Madras allegedly beaten up by a gang
of students". PTI later said that "a picture, purportedly that of
Sooraj being wheeled into a hospital with a visible injury on his
right eye, is doing the rounds in the social media as well".
Sathyamoorthy Govindarajan and Anita Joshua, TT, May 30: Two events made Tamil Nadu the ground zero of the cattle battle today: Madras High Court stayed the central rules for four weeks and an IIT research scholar was allegedly beaten up for organising a beef fest on the campus.
The Madurai bench of Madras High Court stayed for four weeks the operation of the May 23 central government notification banning the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets after a public interest plea challenged its constitutional validity.
The stay is expected to apply to the whole of the country. The court has sent notices to the Centre as well as the Tamil Nadu government.
The Centre's reasoning that the ban could be enforced by changing the "rules" on the basis of powers conferred by the underlying law - the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 - has come under scanner in the court.
PTI reported that the bench of Justices M.V. Muralidharan and C.V. Karthikeyan said a delegated power to legislate by making rules, for carrying out the purposes of a law, was general in nature.
"It cannot be so exercised as to bring into existence substantive rights or obligations or disabilities not contemplated by the provisions of the act," they said.
The court said there was considerable force in the arguments advanced by senior counsel for the petitioners for granting interim relief.
The judges did not agree with the assistant solicitor-general that the presumption was in favour of the central government when a particular rule was introduced not by Parliament but by the executive.
In Delhi, Union minister Venkaiah Naidu told reporters the Centre was examining "some issues" raised against the notification "by some state governments and other trade organisations".
Petitioner Selvagomathy, a lawyer, contended before the Madurai bench of the high court that the new rules were repugnant to the 1960 parent law, whose Section 28 says it is not an offence to kill any animal in a manner required by a religion.
She contended that as the parent act permits slaughter as well as sale of animals for slaughter, the Centre had no authority to ban markets from trading in animals bound for abattoirs.
Selvagomathy said the new rules offended the right to freedom of religion and the protection of the interests of minorities, guaranteed in the Constitution. She said that slaughtering animals for food and offering animal sacrifice at religious places was integral to the cultural identity of most communities in the country.
Further, she said, the new rules amount to interference in the right to practise any profession or carry on any occupation, trade or business, guaranteed under the Constitution.
The petitioner said issues concerning markets, fairs and preservation or protection and improvement of livestock fall in the state list. Therefore, she said, only the state legislatures and not the Centre can enact laws and frame statutory rules on those subjects.
Beef attack
The research scholar at IIT Madras was allegedly beaten up by a fellow student for participating in the campus beef fest that some 60-odd students had organised on Sunday night in protest at the new cattle sale rules.
R. Sooraj, doing his PhD in aeronautical engineering, suffered injuries to his right eye.
Sooraj is a member of the Ambedkar Periyar Student Circle, which has identified his assailant as Manish Kumar, a "strong Hindutva supporter". The student group said in a Facebook post that Sooraj had been attacked in the vegetarian mess at lunchtime.
The Ambedkarite group has alleged that Manish had threatened to "chop into pieces" all those who attended the beef fest. Manish could not be contacted for comment.
Another PhD student, who didn't want to be identified, said Manish had asked Sooraj why he was at the vegetarian mess after eating beef on Sunday.
The Ambedkarite group was briefly de-recognised in 2015 for criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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