The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the central government’s notification banning the sale of cattle for slaughter at markets across the country. The Centre said it would not oppose the ruling, but might change the new rules if necessary, The Indian Express reported.
The top court said that people’s livelihoods could not be “subjected to uncertainties” because of the ban, News18 reported. The bench extended a stay initially issued by the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court. On May 30, the Madras High Court had issued a nation-wide stay on the notification.
On Tuesday, the central government told the Supreme Court that because of objections from the public, it was re-considering “certain aspects” of the notification, The Hindu reported. However, during the hearing, Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha, who was representing the Centre, said this did not mean the rules would be repealed. The report added that Narasimha said the central government did not object to the court extending the Madras High Court ban. While extending the stay, Chief Justice Khehar JS Khehar said, “A balanced view will be needed to keep the rules in abeyance until you finalise everything and re-notfify the amended rules”.
The government had earlier said the notification did not amount to a beef ban, as was reported, and that it was open to suggestions on it. It had also said the intention behind the notification was not to harm any particular group, restrict the food habits of people or affect business. However, the notification had attracted massive criticism from Opposition parties, and even the Bharatiya Janata Party in certain states because of its focus on cows.
The new rules formulated under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act disallow the sale of cattle – cows, buffaloes, bullocks, calves and camels – for slaughter in animal markets. The government had defended the notification, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stating that it had nothing to do with state laws on cow slaughter, but only affected the place of sale.