- SC has stayed the controversial rules issued recently to ban sale of cattle for slaughter at livestock markets
- Several petitions pending in HCs may result in conflicting orders, it was argued
- SC asked the government to keep the rules in abeyance till the authorities take a considered view on representations against the rules
NEW DELHI: Providing ammunition to the Centre’s critics, the Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the controversial rules issued recently to ban the sale of cattle for slaughter at livestock markets that led to a major political row.
The SC order is a big relief for the Muslim community, which has a large presence in the abattoir business and could allay fears that the rules amount to dietary restrictions and are intended to appease the Hindutva constituency. A notification for implementation of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules, 2017, had dismayed cattle traders, butchers and beef eaters (buff in most states) about a constriction in the supply of this meat.
The validity of the rules was challenged in various high courts and the SC. The Madurai bench of Madras HC had stayed the rules. Additional solicitor general PS Narasimha made all-out efforts to avert a stay on implementation of the rules. “Given the sensitivity attached to the issue… the government is keen to amend the rules after consulting various stakeholders. The amendments will come by the end of August,” he said. The court recorded the ASG’s submissions and appeared satisfied not to pass an interim order.
But senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee, said several petitions were pending in HCs which could pass conflicting orders. That would create confusion in the general public. “For the sake of clarity, the apex court must restrain the Centre from implementing the rules,” Sibal said. A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud found merit in Sibal’s apprehension and said the Madurai bench’s stay would apply across the country. It disposed of the petitions and said as and when the government notified the amended rules, the Centre would provide for sufficient time between notification and implementation to permit those aggrieved by it to challenge it in court.