The Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended a government order that had banned the trade of cattle for slaughter, giving relief to the multi-billion dollar beef and leather industries that employ millions of poor workers.
In the latest blow to the meat and leather sectors, mostly run by Muslims, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government had in May decreed that animal markets could only trade cattle for agricultural purposes, such as ploughing and dairy production.
The Supreme Court Chief Justice, Jagdish Singh Khehar, said the livelihoods of people cannot be subjected to uncertainties, television networks said.
The Supreme Court said the interim direction of the Madras High Court staying the Centre’s notification banning the sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter will remain in force and would cover the entire country.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud took note of the statement of the Central Government that it was reconsidering the notification by taking into account various objections and suggestions of stakeholders and would come up with an amended notification.
“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,” the Bench said.
The Bench then disposed of the plea filed by the All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee challenging the constitutional validity of the May 23 notification.
Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha, appearing for the Centre said, the recent notification, in any case, will not be effective unless the state governments earmark local markets as stipulated under it where cattle sale takes place.
“Moreover, the Ministry of Environment and Forests and others authorities concerned are looking into various suggestions and objections to the notification and a fresh amended one will be re-notified,” the ASG said, adding the Central Government as of now is not seeking a stay on the Madras HC order and apprising the court about the present status.
The apex court considered the submissions of the Centre and asked it to give “sufficient time” to enable aggrieved persons to approach the court again with their grievance if any.
The Centre had on May 23 issued the notification banning the sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter, a move that is expected to hit export and trade of meat and leather.
The Environment Ministry had notified the stringent ’Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017’ under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.