New cattle slaughter rules and their aftermath

Madras High Court stays Centre’s notification on sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets

Trading hub: Cattle traders assemble at a monthly market near Mundakayam, in Kerala’s Kottayam district.  

The Madras High Court Bench in Madurai on Tuesday stayed the operation of Rules 22(b)(iii) and 22(e) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulations of Livestock Markets) Rules 2017 notified by the Centre on May 23 banning the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets.

A Division Bench of Justices M.V. Muralidaran and C.V. Karthikeyan granted the interim stay for four weeks on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition challenging the constitutional validity of the rules.

S. Selvagomathy (45), an activist-cum-lawyer based in Madurai, filed the PIL petition on grounds that the statutory rules were repugnant to the parent Act itself since Section 28 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act of 1960 specifically states that it shall not be an offence to kill any animal in a manner required by the religion of any community.


Claiming that the PCA Act permits slaughter of animals as well as sale of animals for slaughter, the petitioner said the Centre had no authority to extend its rule making power, under the enactment, to the extent of banning the sale of animals in a market for the purpose of slaughter.

She contended that the new rules offend the right to freedom of religion guaranteed under Article 25 and the protection of interests of minorities under Article 29 of the Constitution. She said the slaughtering of animals for food and offering sacrifice in religious places were a part and parcel of the cultural identity of most of the communities in the country.

The petitioner stated that prohibiting the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets amounted to interfering with the right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business as guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. The statutory rules banning sale of cattle for slaughter amounted to excessive restriction and not reasonable restriction imposed on the right to trade.

Ms. Selvagomathy said the farmers, traders involved in the sale of cattle, slaughter houseowners and their employees would be deprived of their livelihood, as the rules defined the term ‘animal market’ to be a market place or sale yard or any other premises or place to which animals were brought from other places and exposed for sale or auction.

The definition also included any lairage adjoining a market or a slaughterhouse and used in connection with it and any place adjoining a market used as a parking area by visitors to the market for parking of vehicles and included animal fair and cattle pound where animals were offered or displayed for sale or auction.

Further the rules defined the term ‘cattle’ to mean a bovine animal, including bulls, bullocks, cows, buffaloes, steers, heifers and calves and camels. “Therefore, by the impugned regulations, a complete ban has been imposed on the trade of sale or purchase of animals defined as cattle and it is in violation of the right to livelihood under Article 21 of the Constitution,” she asserted.

The petitioner went on to state: “The right to choice of food [non-vegetarian or vegetarian] is a part of the right to personal liberty, conscience and privacy. By imposing a ban on slaughter of animals for food, the citizens with a choice to eat the flesh of such animals would be deprived of such food and it violates the right to food, privacy and personal liberty.”

Referring to the seventh schedule to the Constitution, the petitioner said the issues concerning markets, fairs and preservation or protection and improvement of livestock fall within entry 28 and 15 of the State list and thus only the State legislature and not the Centre was empowered to enact laws and frame statutory rules on those subjects.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 11:49:26 PM |

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