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On cattle trade laws, Supreme Court asks Centre to respond in 2 weeks

Agencies: The opposition to the government’s cattle trade rule has reached the Supreme Court, which asked the NDA government today to respond on the contentions of several petitions. A Hyderabad-based organisation and two others filed petitions earlier this month, saying the rule violates fundamental rights to livelihood, freedom of religion and food choice.

The Centre, which has told the court that the intention of the rule was to regulate the cattle market, will file a formal reply within two weeks. The court will hear the matter again on July 11. The Centre’s cattle trade rule — which bans sale and purchase of cattle for slaughter in animal markets — has already been put on hold by the Madras High Court. The court has asked the Centre and the state government to respond to the petition, which is also on the same lines.

Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha told journalists, “We are treating the stay granted by the Madras High Court as stay across the country. Taking advantage of the stay we have invited suggestions and put in place a regime after consultations”.

Denying any there is any ban on beef, the government’s law officer told journos that it was “a misconception”. “The rules are for organised live stock market. The farmers now have the option of taking cattle to life stock market or to a slaughter market”. Citing the status quo, he added, “We will consult all and come up with regulatory regime”

The petition in top court, filed, among others, by the All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee, has said the Centre’s move is unconstitutional. The rule, the petition said, was against freedom of “religious practice to sacrifice animals” and imposing a “ban on slaughter of animals for food violates the right to food, privacy and personal liberty guaranteed to a citizen under the Constitution”.

There have been huge protests against the cattle trade rule in various states in the south and the northeast, where beef is a staple. The Chief Ministers of Bengal and Kerala have also said they were contemplating legal action against the rule. The Centre has said the intention of the rule was not to interfere with food preferences. It was framed to address the larger issue of cruelty to animals.


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