New Delhi : The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has gazetted the draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Animal Market Rules that drops the ban on sale of cattle for slaughter imposed through the rules notified on May 23 last year kicking up furore and political storm across the country.
It has invited objections and suggestions to the gazette notification within one month up to April 24 by writing to its deputy secretary (animal welfare) in the Ministry at Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jorbagh Road, New Delhi 110003. Earlier May 23 notification was suspended by the Supreme Courtís Bench headed by then Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar on July 11 on the ground that it affects the livelihood of the meat sellers.
The 5-page draft rules also drops poultry from its purview as in the previous 2017 notification and removes mention of calf and definition of cattle to cover bovine animal including bulls, bullocks, cows, buffaloes, steers, heifers and calves and includes camels. They, however, prohibit sale of any young animal which is not six months old, a sick animal or one due for giving birth.
Earlier rules prohibited location of any animal market within 50 km from any international border and 25 km from any state border. The draft rules just say that the market committee shall ensure that that the market shall not be source of transport of animals across any international border, except in accordance with the Transport of Animals Rules, 1978 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Transprot of Animals on Foot) Rules 2001. Ban on any market within 25 km of the state border has been also removed.
The government had taken a stand in the Court that it was compelled to frame the rules last May to regulate the cattle markets in deference to a Supreme Court directive to stop smuggling of cows and other animals to Nepal for the religious sacrifices. The court order came on a plea to prohibit illegal transport of animals to Nepal where a sacrificial ceremony is held during the Gadhimal festival.
Regulating the animal trade is a state business and as such many states refused to enforce the rules that the Environment Ministry had slapped on the ground that animal welfare is a central subject and it has to take care that there is no cruelty to animals in their sale.
Earlier rules required the person bringing the cattle to the market to undertake that it is not for sale for slaughter while the buyer has to state that it is bought for agriculture purposes and not for slaughter and he shall not sell the animal up to six months from the date of purchase. The draft rules binds the buyer only to declare that he will abide by the rules relating to transport of the animals.
There was a hue and cry over the earlier rules notified on May 23 as an attempt by the Modi government to curtail the food habits of people as not only cows but other animals will also not be allowed to be sold in the regulated market for slaughter. So far 90% of the animal sale is in the private hands while the government wants all animal markets in a district regulated by a committee headed by the district magistrate.
Four details clauses on how the animals should be kept in the market have been removed while the detailed guidelines on feeding and watering have been also condensed.