The new Restrictions by the centre on the sale of cattle in livestock markets for slaughter and religious animal sacrifices purposes breach the law of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, under which it has been notified.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules of 2017 permit the sale of cattle in markets only to verified “agriculturists”, who have to give an undertaking to authorities that cattle will be used only for farming and will not be sold for slaughter nor it shall be used for sacrifices.
As per TH report, the regulated rule further says that when the animal dies, its corpse will not be sold or flayed for leather making. The owner has to incinerate the carcass.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, enacted on December 26, 1960, however, does not impose any such restriction. It does not ban a cattle owner to sell the carcass of his animals for leather. The legislative intent of the 1960 Act is to “prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals”. In fact, the very proof that neither slaughter nor sale for that purpose is banned by the Act is found in Section 9 (e) of the statute. One of the functions of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) under the Act is to “advise the government or any local authority or other person in the design of slaughter-houses or the maintenance of slaughter houses or in connection with slaughter of animals so that unnecessary pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is eliminated in the pre-slaughter stages as far as possible, and animals are killed; wherever necessary, in as humane a manner as possible.”
Section 11 of the Act does not categorise slaughter of animals for food as cruelty. However, it says “destruction of any animal as food for mankind unless such destruction or preparation was accompanied by the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.”
When a PIL petition came up for hearing before the SC to ban animal sacrifices for religious purposes, the court had specifically noted how Section 28 of the Act mandates that “nothing contained in this Act (1960 Act) shall render it an offence to kill any animal in a manner required by the religion of any community.”
The restriction on the trade of cattle or carcasses in livestock markets should be made keeping the fundamental right to occupation, trade or business under Article 19 (1) (g) under consideration, to see whether it is “reasonable.”
Though Section 38 of the 1960 Act grants the Centre power to formulate rules, several judicial precedents exemplify this rule-making power does not allow going “beyond the scope of enabling Act or which is inconsistent therewith or repugnant.”