Environment Ministry has banned cattle slaughter and introduced restrictions on the sale of cattle in India

Cattle ban: SC issues notice to Centre on hearing PIL.

New Delhi,May26: The Environment Ministry has banned cattle slaughter and introduced restrictions on the sale of cattle to prevent their killing.

A gazette notification, titled Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change states that no one can bring cattle to an animal market unless he or she has furnished a written declaration that the cattle will not be sold for the purpose of slaughter. Further, upon sale of cattle, the animal market committee will take an “undertaking” that the animals are for agricultural purposes and not for slaughter.

There are questions as to how does the central government effectively prohibit cattle slaughter across India when livestock is a state subject.

Officials at the animal market will have to verify that the purchaser of the cattle is a farmer by checking the relevant revenue documents. The gazette notification also states that the purchaser of the cattle will not sell the animal for the purpose of slaughter nor “sacrifice the animal for any religious purpose”.

The notification defines “cattle” as bovine animals, including bulls, cows, buffalos, steers, heifers and calves and camels. Animal market is defined as a “market place or sale-yard or any other premises or place to which animals are brought from other places and exposed for sale or auction and includes any lairage adjoining a market or a slaughterhouse”.

The new rules also prohibit the sale of cattle to persons from outside a state, without permission as per the state cattle protection laws. Animal markets have also been prohibited from within 25 km of state borders.

Additionally, gaushalas, animal welfare organisations etc, which are giving up cattle for adoption, will have to provide an affidavit that the animals will be used for agricultural purposes and not for slaughter. In the case of draught and pack animals, they will have to give a similar undertaking.

However, these rules which prohibit cattle slaughter are under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and Section 37 and Section 38 of the parent act says that the central government does have the power to introduce such a regulation.

Section 37 of the 1960 act is about the delegation of powers where the central government may, by notification in the official gazette, direct that all or any of the powers exercisable by it under this Act, may, subject to such conditions as it may think fit to impose, be also exercisable by any state government.

Thereafter, Section 38 gives the central government the power to make rules to carry out the purposes of this Act.

It was in January 4, 2017, that there were deliberations on a possible law banning beef and cow slaughter and the Union environment ministry had asked the agriculture ministry to explore the option of enacting a national law to prohibit slaughtering of cow, selling of beef or beef products.

However, the Supreme Court in January, this year, while hearing a PIL to ban nationwide cow slaughter declined to entertain it as it was a “state subject”.

“One state may ban slaughter, the other may not… we will not interfere in state laws,” the Supreme Court said as it rejected the petition seeking a uniform policy on cow slaughter. The apex court had told petitioner Vineet Sahai that it had already passed orders on measures to stop the illegal inter-state transportation of cattle.