The Supreme Court of India
will hear a challenge
to the Centre’s
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 on June 15.
The petition has been filed by a Hyderabad-based organisation called All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee, through advocate Sanobar Ali Qureshi.
The petitioner claims that Rules 22(a), (b)(iii), (c), (d)(ii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii), (e)(ii),(iii) and 25(5) are violative of Articles 19(1)(g), 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution. It also assails the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2016 as being ultra vires Sections 29 and 35 of the parent Act.
It also cites the decisions of the Bombay High Court and the Allahabad High Court in Sheik Zahid Mukthar v. State of Maharashtra and Saeed Ahamed v. State of UP , which held that the state cannot deprive its citizens of their right to choice of food.
Further, Rules 8 (1) and (2) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2016 provide that the animal can be confiscated on the owner’s first offence. This, according to the petition, is antithetical to Section 29 of the Act, which provides that the animals are liable to be confiscated only when the owner is convicted for the second time.
Moreover, it states that slaughter of animals for the purpose of food does not amount to cruelty, as per Section 11(3) of the Act. Also, Section 28 of the Act
provides that killing of an animal in any manner required by the religion of any community does not come under scope of the Act. It also states,
“… slaughtering of animals for food, the foods and culinary made out of such animal flesh and offering sacrifice of animals is a part of the cultural identity of such communities, which is protected from any legislative or executive encroachment under Article 29 of the Constitution of India…”
The petition also states that Rule 22 of the Regulation of Livestock Markets Rules affects the right to profession under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
“…the complete ban of sale or purchase or resale of animals, would cast a huge economic burden on the farmers, cattle traders who find it difficult to feed their children today…would also give way for Cow Vigilantes to harass farmers and cattle traders under the blessing of the impugned regulations…”
According to the petitioner, the Rules impose heavy costs on owners of animals, who usually come for economically weaker sections of society.
“…the provisions under section 35 of the Parent Act considered the poverty of the accused owner of the animal and exempted him from the payment for the treatment of animals, whereas the new rules mentioned above imposing harsh conditions of recovering the cost of care and maintenance as arrears of land revenue…”
The Centre’s competence to introduce Rules regarding regulation of animal markets has also been called into question.
“It is relevant to note that, the fields of legislation, concerning “Markets and fairs” and “Preservation or protection and improvement of stocks”, falls, within entry 28 and 15 of the State list and thus it is only the State legislature, which is empowered to make laws on the said fields of legislation.”
Therefore, the petitioner has prayed that the Court strike down the aforementioned Rules as unconstitutional.
The Centre last month issued a press release stating that it would look into the representations made by various organisations and individuals regarding the Rules, which have sparked protests in different states.
The Kerala High Court today refused to grant a stay on the Rules, and will hear the
petitions for expeditious disposal on August 26. Last week, the Madras High Court stayed the Rules in a petition filed by lawyer and social activist S Selvagomathy.
Given the two High Courts’ differing opinions on the matter, it becomes all the more important for the Supreme Court to step in. It will be interesting to see the apex court’s interpretation of the situation come next Thursday.
News Source - Bar & Bench
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