The Big Story: Regulating cattle trade

The Supreme Court on Tuesday reiterated the Madras High Court’s order in June suspending the new rules framed by the Union Ministry of Environment banning the sale in markets of cattle for slaughter.

The Centre assured the court that the new rules, notified on May 25 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, would not be put into effect and that the government was open to revising the provisions after taking into consideration objections from various sections. This change of position from the Centre, which in May had vehemently defended the ban as a necessary measure to tackle illegal cattle trade and prevent animal cruelty, comes in the wake of protests across the country. States like Kerala refused to implement the notification, alleging that the rules were an indirect ban on beef consumption.

While it is refreshing to see the Centre agreeing to listen to voices on the ground, the decision to put the rules on hold raises serious questions about the process of policy-making in India. The government’s decision to revise the rules makes it clear that very little consultation before the rules were framed. According to the Centre, the draft rules had been placed before the public for suggestions in January. However, the shock with which the farming community reacted to the new cattle trade rules showed that the section most affected by this law was largely kept out of the loop. Instead, animal-rights activists took the lead in formulating the regulations. Worse, the rules energised self-proclaimed cow-protection zealots to accelerate violence against cattle traders, especially Muslims and Dalits, across the country.

As the Centre revises the regulations, it is imperitive for it to restore the confidence of India’s cattle traders by reining in cow vigilantes.

The Big Scroll

  • The Supreme Court may have stayed the new cattle trade rules, but fear of mobs has left cattle markets deserted
  • In drought-hit Tamil Nadu, the new cattle rules threatened to decimate rural economy.


  1. In this interview to The Hindu, former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Memon says the latest stand-off between India and China in the Doklam plateau is an attempt by Beijing to change the territorial status quo. 
  2. In the Hindustan Times, Prasenjit Bose says the appeasement politics by the Trinamool Congress has eroded the trust on the administration in West Bengal. 
  3. Faizan Mustaffa in the Indian Express states that debate on triple talaq should go beyond Muslim law and consider the practice in a general human rights sense. 


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