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1 Jun 2017

Kerala gears up for cattle battle

TT, May 31: The Kerala government today decided to take the "legal route" against implementing the Centre's cattle rules widely seen as a de facto ban on beef.
An hour after chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan made the announcement following a cabinet meeting, Kerala High Court dismissed a PIL against the rules, observing that they did not ban "eating, slaughtering and selling of cattle" and that "there was no constitutional violation".
Vijayan did not explain what exactly the "legal route" would be but sources in his office hinted at a possible cabinet meeting tomorrow to work out the strategy. The state has already expressed its displeasure and inability to implement the rules.
A special session of the Assembly will also be convened "soon" and the Left government plans to organise a meeting of all chief ministers to discuss the issue that "concerns people across the country", Vijayan said. The Union environment ministry's May 23 notification, called the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules, 2017, bans the sale of cattle in animal markets for slaughter.
A beef-consuming state where even cow slaughter is allowed, Kerala was the first to come out against the notification, calling it unconstitutional and an encroachment into a state subject. "We will consult the Opposition and announce a date for the special session," Vijayan said. The allusion was to an all-party meeting to call the Assembly session to discuss the row that has led to days of demonstrations and beef festivals where protesters cooked and served the meat.
Not long after Vijayan spoke, a division bench of Kerala High Court headed by Chief Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh observed that it could not see any prohibition on selling and consumption of beef in the notification, and that its interference was not warranted.
The PIL was filed by T.G. Sunil, state general secretary of the Youth Congress. The Kerala High Court's decision came a day after Madras High Court's Madurai bench, acting on two PILs, stayed the central notification for four weeks.
Told about the Kerala High court's observations, the sources in Vijayan's office indicated this evening that the state would go ahead with its plans to contest the notification.
Speaking earlier in the day, Vijayan had declared the rules would be countered in every possible manner. "The intrusion into the state's domain is a clear violation of the provisions laid down in the Constitution. This notification cannot be allowed even if it is in the name of preventing animal cruelty as it would lead to job losses and affect the livelihoods of those engaged in the meat business."
Some 15 lakh cattle heads are brought from other states to Kerala, one of the major consumers of beef. "More than Rs 6,000 crore worth of beef is sold in Kerala every year and 5 lakh people work in this sector," Vijayan said.

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