NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended a Madras High Court stay on the Centre’s recent rules, which had banned cattle trade for slaughter, throughout the country.
The Centre did not seek a vacation of the High Court’s stay and said it was considering a re-examination of the rules issued in May.
The BJP-led NDA government seems to be on a backfoot after a backlash against the rules that were criticised by some states as a ploy to alter food habits with an indirect beef ban.
Representing the Centre, Additional Solicitor General P Narsimha said that all stakeholders would be invited and their suggestions considered.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules, 2017, if amended, will be re-notified after August, he said.
A SC bench comprising Chief Justice of India JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud dismissed all petitions challenging the rules after the Centre made its submissions.
“It is pointed out by the Centre that the issues under challenge are subject matter of fresh consideration and authorities concerned are seized of it. It is submitted that the rules will be re-notified after appropriate changes,” SC said.
“In the above view of the matter, we do not find any reason to keep the petitions pending,” the top court added.
“We are of the view that as and when a fresh notification is issued, sufficient time shall be granted by the government for implementation of the notified amendments so that till the rules are implemented there is sufficient time for the parties to assail the same,” the CJI said.
Welcoming the move, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said, “We only want an assurance… a message should go out that business is not stopped… that rules will not be implemented without a re-look.”
On May 26, the Environment Ministry issued the notification under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. It faced bitter protests, especially from the meat export industry and states such as Kerala, West Bengal and those from the North-East that permit cow slaughter. The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court later stayed the notification for four weeks.
In a June 7 petition, Hyderabad-based Mohammed Abdul Faheem Qureshi had said that the notification is “against the freedom of religious practice to sacrifice animals”, and that imposing a ban on the slaughter of animals for food violates the right to food, privacy and personal liberty guaranteed to a citizen under the Constitution.
The petition said that several states such Kerala, West Bengal, Tripura and Karnataka did not support the ban since it would impact the livelihood of those involved in the meat business.