SC had taken varied positions on cattle issue

Ultimately it asked the Centre and States to devise policy

Updated - May 27, 2017 09:28 am IST

Published - May 27, 2017 09:23 am IST - NEW DELHI

Strength in numbers A man on the move with his cattle in Delhi on Thursday. Sushil Kumar Verma

Strength in numbers A man on the move with his cattle in Delhi on Thursday. Sushil Kumar Verma

For years, the Supreme Court has struggled for consistency in its judicial pronouncements regarding cattle, leaving it ultimately to the Centre and States to devise an appropriate policy.

While Supreme Court banned the bull-running sport jallikattu as cruel, it refused to intervene with States to frame a uniform policy on cattle slaughter. Neither did the court deem it fit to examine a plea to ban animal sacrifices for religious purposes.


“The balance and harmony of all faiths, this court is bound to it. Your petition makes generalised statements on a very, very sensitive matter.. We have to close our eyes to centuries and centuries old traditions,” Chief Justice of India (as he was then) H.L. Dattu orally observed in court to a petition filed by a journalist, Varaaki, in September 2015.

The petition had contended that “faith, religion, customs and practices should not take precedence over lawful rights, human or animal. This being true for all religious communities, whether it be Durga pooja, the slaughter of lambs for Easter, turkeys for Thanksgiving or goats for Bakri-Eid.”

Again, in 2017, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar declined a plea by Delhi resident Vineet Sahai to direct the States to frame a national policy as contradicting laws ensured a favourable clime for illegal inter-State transportation of cattle.

Extending rules

In April 2017, the apex court had asked the Centre to extend to India-Bangladesh border areas its rules framed to counter the smuggling of cattle to territories in Nepal.

Legal precedents also show that the court had differed on the question whether beef was a “poor man’s diet”.

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