New Delhi: Two writ petitions were filed in the Kerala High Court on Monday stating that the Centre's notification on cattle slaughter is “contrary to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960” and it is unconstitutional as the Centre does not have the legislative competence to frame such rules.
This comes just when the Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan had written a letter to all CMs of the country and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting them not to support the new rules introduced to prevent cattle slaughter.
The new rule, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules, 2017, was brought into effect on May 23 by a gazette notification by the Environment Ministry. The rules bans the sale of cattle (bulls, bullocks, cows, buffaloes, steers, heifers and calves, as well camel) for slaughter at animal markets and only permits the sale of such animals for agricultural purposes.
When a clarification was sought, a former member of the legal committee of the Animal Welfare Board of India had said that this rule was introduced to help in traceability of the animals as it would now be have to be sourced directly from the farms.
This petition has been filed by Hibi Eden, the Ernakulam MLA, and K U Kunju Mohammed, a meat shop owner, who is engaged in purchasing of cattle. The petition challenges the constitutional validity of Rule 22 of the newly released rules which in effect prevents purchase of cattle for the purpose of slaughter. The petitioners have contended that the said rules not only violate the Right to Equality, Right to Trade and Profession and the Right to Life, but also encroached upon the legislative field of the state government.
Another ground which the petition raises to strike down the rule is that the new rule of 2017 does not meet the objective of the parent Act of 1960. It states that the objective of the Act, as revealed by its preamble is to prevent infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals and does not mention anything related to prevent slaughter of animals, and hence the prohibition imposed in Rule 22 of the Rules for not selling cattle for slaughter is clearly violative of the Act.
The petition has also justified as to how a combined reading of the definition of ‘animal markets’ and Rule 22 clearly shows how there is a complete restriction of purchasing and selling cattle for slaughter. It states that the “sweeping definition” of the term animal market will prevent someone from selling cattle even from the stable. The petition further also states that it violates Article 25 of the Constitution, which guarantees Right to practice and propagate religion.