After facing flak for imposing a nation-wide ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter in the animal markets, the central government has decided to withdraw its controversial plan imposing the ban. The move comes in wake of the feedback received by the Ministry of Environment and Forests from the states on its notification regarding the ammendments made to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Market) Act.
A senior official from the Ministry told The Indian Express that a file on the matter has already been sent to the Ministry of Law. He also said that changes will be made to the notification, however, the time frame for the process hasn’t been ascertained yet.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests, in a notification dated May 23, had made it illegal for farmers and animal traders to sell cattle – including cows, buffaloes, camels, steers and bulls – for slaughter in animal markets. The rules also prohibited the sale of cattle outside the state borders. Furthermore, the notification also made it mandatory for the people bringing their cattle to the animal market to produce an affidavit stating that the cattle had been brought to the market to not be sold for slaughter.
The notice issued by the centre was severely criticised for attempting to enforce a ban on ‘ideological grounds’. The move was also opposed by farmers as it restricted the animal trade to agricultural purpose only. The decision had also sparked an outrage from states like Kerala, Meghalaya and West Bengal.
At the end of May, Madras High Court issued an interim stay on the notification in Tamil Nadu. In July, the Supreme Court extended the stay to the entire nation.
Change in stand
Following months of protest and numerous incidents of cow vigilantes assaulting people in various parts of the country, Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan in September this year indicated that the notification issued by the ministry was intended to prevent animal cruelty and to not enforce a ‘regulatory regime’ or ‘influence the food habits of people’.
Soon after, the Ministry asked the states to send their opinions on the notification.