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16 Jun 2017

SC glare on cattle sale ban

TT, New Delhi, June 15: The Supreme Court today sought the Centre's response on two petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the rules banning cattle sales in animal markets for slaughter, viewed as an attempt to regulate people's food habits.
A vacation bench of Justices R.K. Agrawal and Sanjay Kishan Kaul issued the notice to the Centre and listed the matter for further hearing on July 11.
Additional solicitor-general P.S. Narasimha, representing in the Centre, briefly told the court the rules were brought in "to bring some sought of a regime in the cattle market" to regulate the trade. But the bench tersely told him: "You file the reply."
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 - notified by the Union ministry of environment and forests on May 23 - prohibits the sale of cattle in animal markets unless there is a written declaration that they will not be sold for slaughter. The animal market committee will have to secure an "undertaking" that the animals have been sold for agricultural purposes only.
The main petition, filed by the All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee which espouses the cause of butchers and cattle traders, has challenged the regulations mainly on the ground that it impinges upon the citizens' fundamental right to carry on their profession and the right to choice of food.
The other petition has been filed by Sabu Steephen, a social activist from Kerala who has raised similar objections.
"The complete ban of sale or purchase or resale of animals would cast a huge economic burden on farmers, cattle traders who find it difficult to feed their children today, but would be required to feed the cattle as it is an offence under the (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Act of 1960 to starve an animal or failure to maintain it... it would also give way for cow vigilantes to harass farmers and cattle traders under the blessing of the impugned regulations," the committee said.
"Therefore, the provisions are in violation of the right to livelihood under Article 21 of the Constitution and the right to carry on trade or business, and amount to an infringement of the fundamental right guaranteed by Article 19 (g) of the Constitution of India," the petition added.
The committee said the rules were an assault on the country's federal structure as the Centre had sought to usurp the powers of the states. "The Centre sought to legislate on matters falling purely within the domain of the state legislature, directly usurping the legislative powers of the states of the union. The respondent (the Centre) had breached the cardinal principle of federalism, which is a basic structure of our Constitution."
According to the plea, "the rules emasculate state legislatures, particularly when the parliamentary enactment on the subject does not empower such rule-making", are a "direct attack on the federal structure of our Constitution and therefore void".
The petition pointed out that the choice of food - vegetarian or non-vegetarian - is part of the fundamental right to personal liberty, conscience and privacy. "By imposing a ban on slaughter of animals for food, the citizens with a choice to eat the flesh of such animals would be deprived of such food, which violates the right to food, privacy and personal
According to the plea, "the rules emasculate state legislatures, particularly when the parliamentary enactment on the subject does not empower such rule-making", are a "direct attack on the federal structure of our Constitution and therefore void".
The petition pointed out that the choice of food - vegetarian or non-vegetarian - is part of the fundamental right to personal liberty, conscience and privacy.
"By imposing a ban on slaughter of animals for food, the citizens with a choice to eat the flesh of such animals would be deprived of such food, which violates the right t

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