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28 May 2017

Legal scan on cattle rules

Pranesh Sarkar, TT, Calcutta, May 27: The Mamata Banerjee government has started exploring both legal and political options on the Centre's ban on sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets.
Mamata did not make any direct reference to the central rules but told a programme marking a year in power in her second innings as chief minister: "Bengal does not accept divisions, injustice and separation.... Bengal is for all and we will work to strengthen the values."
Sources in the government said officials had started consulting lawyers to challenge the notification in court.
One reason for the legal consultation is that some officials feel it may not be easy to challenge the order legally because Article 251 of the Constitution states that if a state and the Centre have inconsistent laws on the same subject, the central law will prevail.
The central ban on the sale of bulls, bullocks, cows, buffalos, steers, heifers, calves and camels in animal markets for slaughter has been imposed through a notification issued under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Rules, 2017.
The "rules" have been framed using the powers conferred on the Centre by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which is a law. Strictly speaking, "rules" and "laws" are not the same: laws have legislative backing while rules help implement the provisions of the law.
One official said the rules on preventing cruelty to animals fall on the concurrent list, which means both the state and the Centre have a say on the issue.
Besides, trade and commerce within a state is a state subject, the official said. "We will find out whether trade of cattle can be restricted in this way," he added
The legal consultations are expected to bring clarity to these issues.
"Let the order reach us, we will talk to the chief minister," education minister Partha Chatterjee said at Nabanna.
"Our stand is very clear. If any decision is taken unilaterally on an issue that involves the interest of the state, it is unethical, unethical, unethical," Chatterjee added.
Two ministers said they would highlight how the Centre had imposed an order on an issue that was on the concurrent list. Another minister said the government could not "wash its hands of" the ban as minorities accounted for nearly 30 per cent of Bengal's population.
Disaster management minister Javed Khan said the decision would hurt the state's leather industry that employs about 4 lakh people. "The chief minister will decide about the next move. People from every community work in the leather sector," Khan said.

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