The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the Centre’s notification banning the sale and purchase of cattle at animal markets for slaughter, and issued a notice to the government seeking an explanation within two weeks, PTI reported. The matter has been scheduled for hearing on July 11.

A Hyderabad-based lawyer, Mohammed Abdul Faheem Qureshi, had sought to quash the Centre’s new notification, arguing that it violated the right to free trade. Qureshi had said the notification was “discriminatory” and “unconstitutional”, The Indian Express reported. Slaughter of animals for food is not categorised as cruelty under the condition that it does not accompany pain and suffering, Qureshi said quoting Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

Attorney Solicitor-General PS Narasimha, appearing for the Centre, said the notification was made to regulate cattle trade across the country, PTI reported.

On May 26, the Centre had issued new rules that require cattle traders to give an undertaking that the animals being sold at markets would only be used for agricultural purposes. Several states have massively criticised the notification, including Kerala, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh, among others. There have also been protests against the ban in some parts of the country, including a beef-eating festival organised in IIT-Madras, which led to an assault on a PhD scholar by alleged members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.