The Supreme Court today extended to the entire country the Madras High Court order staying the May 23 notification of the Centre banning sale and purchase of cattle from markets for slaughter.
The order came after the central government asserted that it was not seeking lifting of the stay on the notification by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court and was, rather, looking at it afresh by considering objections and suggestions.
A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud took note of the statement of Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P S Narsimha that the Centre would come up with the amended notification and said, "in view of the aforesaid, we find no justification to deal with it (plea)."
The court 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.
"Needless to say that the interim direction issued by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court shall continue and extend to the entire country," it said.
The apex court said the amended rules, to be notified later, would be also open to challenge before it.
"We are of the view that as and when fresh notification is issued, sufficient time shall be granted by the government for implementation of the notified amendments so that before the Rules are implemented, there shall be sufficient time to aggrieved persons to assail them before us," the bench said.
The ASG, at the outset, that the Centre was considering the objections and a statement has already been made by the minister that such grievances and suggestions would be taken note of.
The Central Rules, in any case, will not be effective unless the state governments earmark local markets as stipulated where cattle sale takes place, and the process would take at least three months.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee, said the legal question related to "intrusion" into the powers of state governments.
He then referred to the mandatory certificate to be given by the seller and purchasers of cattle that they would not slaughter them.
The bench, however, said the Centre is re-considering the issue and moreover, the Rules have already been stayed by the High Court and hence, there was no need to hear the plea.
The Centre had on May 23 issued the notification banning sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter.
The plea had said that the Rules unconstitutionally prohibited the sale of cattle for slaughter imposing absolute ban on the purchase of the animal and violated the fundamental rights of freedom of choice of food.
It was also said that 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.
The plea had also said that Karnataka, Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal had already said they would not implement the rules in "the wake of outrage against it for impacting the poor dalits and Muslims".
"The complete ban of sale or purchase or resale of animals, would cast a huge economic burden on the 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 Act of 1960 to starve an animal or failure to maintain it and would also give way for Cow Vigilantes to harass farmers and cattle traders under the blessing of the impugned regulations," the plea had said.
The Rules were violative of the right to freedom of religion and conscience and thus was arbitrary, inconsistent and outside the purview of parent act, the petitioner had said.
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