Taking a significant step back, the Centre will remove all references to the term "slaughter" in the new version of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules, 2017, reported The Indian Express. The changes were observed in the draft of the notification as is being vetted by the Union law ministry.
A possible rollback in the rules was reported in November 2017, when the central government had decided to roll back its original plan of implementing a ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets. The decision had come about after several states gave their feedback on the issue, India Today had reported.
"We sent a file to the Ministry of Law earlier this week, stating that we are withdrawing the notification due to several issues and will be revising it," The Indian Express had quoted a senior official from the Ministry of Environment and Forests as saying. He had then said that a time-frame for the process had to yet be decided.
The ministry had notified the stringent Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, banning the sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter. The rules define cattle as a bovine animal, including bulls, bullocks, cows, buffaloes, steers, heifers and calves and camels. They also prohibit establishment of an animal market in a place which is situated within 25 kilometres from any state border and within 50 kilometres from any international border.
Various bodies and political parties had reacted to the government's decision, saying it was an "ill-advised" decision which will widen the "terrorism" by cow vigilantes.
The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court had stayed the cattle slaughter rules in May, and had asked the state and central governments to reply to a petition filed before it. The notification was challenged on the ground that it violated the basic right of an individual in relation to his/her choice of food. In June, it extended the stay by four more weeks.
In July, the Supreme Court had said that the high court's stay on the Centre's notification regarding sale of cattle for slaughter will continue and will cover the entire country.
The new version of the rules also include, "Take all necessary steps to maintain a register of animal sales at animal markets in its jurisdiction... Make necessary arrangements to provide a certificate of compliance for purchaser of animal at an animal market in its jurisdiction," according to The Indian Express report.
After the notification was issued, the government had clarified that the modifications were done to prevent cruelty to animals in cattle markets and not to regulate cattle traded at slaughterhouses. "The prime focus of the regulation is to protect the animals from cruelty and not to regulate the existing trade at slaughterhouses," the Union environment ministry had said, adding that livestock markets are intended to become hubs for animal trade for agriculture, while animals for slaughter will have to be bought from farmers at farms.
"It is envisaged that welfare of cattle dealt with at markets will be ensured and that only healthy animals are traded for agricultural purposes for the benefit of farmers," a ministry statement had said.
Firstpost had earlier argued that the Modi government could save face on the issue without getting into a deeper mess by doing one simple thing: Restore the sale of cattle for slaughter in livestock markets and bring in stringent rules to prevent cattle theft, the sale of unhealthy cattle and ensuring the quality of meat sold to the public. "The government can stipulate minimum infrastructure and cleanliness requirements for market places and perhaps, bring in a new licensing system to weed out those who are non-compliant," it said.
Updated Date: Feb 27, 2018 12:55 PM