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The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a plea seeking modification of its July 11 order that extended the stay of Madras High Court (HC) on Centre's notification banning sale and purchase of cattle from markets across the country.
The fresh plea, mentioned for urgent hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar, said the Madurai Bench of the HC had only stayed the operation of one of the two notifications, that is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules, 2017, which is also referred to as Livestock Market Rules.
Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for animal rights activist Gauri Maulekhi, said the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, also referred to as the Case Property Rules, was not challenged before the HC.
The Case Property Rules deal with the issue of care and treatment of those animals which are seized by law enforcement agencies for offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The Livestock Market Rules pertain to the sale and purchase of animals at the notified livestock markets.
Another senior advocate V Giri said the Livestock Market Rules and Case Property rules are different and dealt with separate issues and hence, the fresh plea needed to be heard.
The bench, also comprising Justice D Y Chandrachud, then agreed to the plea on July 21.
The petition has submitted that the July 11 order was passed on the basis of "an incorrect assumption and belief" that both the rules were challenged before the HC.
"Allow the application and clarify the order passed by this Court on July 11 to the effect that the order passed by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on May 30 is restricted to the operation of Rule 22(b)(iii) of Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules, 2017," it said.
Earlier, the apex court had extended the Madras HC order staying the May 23 notification of the Centre banning sale and purchase of cattle from markets for slaughter to the entire country.
The order had come after the Centre had asserted that it was not seeking lifting of the stay on the notification by the High Court but was rather looking at it afresh by considering objections and suggestions.
The court had then disposed of the plea of Mohammed Abdul Faheem Qureshi, President of Hyderabad-based All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee, challenging the constitutional validity of 'Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017' issued under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
The apex court had said the amended rules, to be notified later, would be also open to challenge before it.
The Centre had on May 23 issued the two notifications.
The plea had said that the Rules unconstitutionally prohibited the sale of cattle for slaughter imposing an absolute ban on the purchase of the animal and violated the fundamental rights of freedom of choice of food.
It was also said the Rules tend to regulate livestock markets with an intention of preserving protecting and improving stocks, though the legislation was earmarked for the state legislature.