The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday suspended the ban of cattle trade for slaughter across India.
The court ordered to continue the interim directive issued by the Madurai bench of the Madras high court and extended to the entire country.
On 25 May (2017) the Indian Government issued a notification banning sale of cattle, including cows, for slaughter and restricted cattle trade to farm owners.
But the government’s move had triggered protest in different states of India.
Most states have weekly markets where animals are traded and these markets are primary source of supply for meat traders.
The apex court is hearing a number of petitions challenging the ban that was put on hold by the Madras high court on May 30.
The bench consisting of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud said on Tuesday, “Needless to say that the interim direction issued by the Madurai bench of the Madras high court shall continue and extend to the entire country.”
An NGO has argued that the rules framed under the prevention of cruelty to animals act are against public interest.
The petitions also noted that only state governments were empowered to make laws on cattle markets and fairs, which rendered the new rules arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional.
The government told the court the cattle-trade rules, which several states refused to implement, would not come into effect. It would revise the rules by the August-end after considering the objections.
The controversial notification sparked protests and beef fests across India. Several states, such as Kerala and West Bengal, declared that they wouldn’t implement the order as the government can’t dictate food habits. Even some of the BJP’s allies in the northeast – where beef is part of the daily diet – have reservations.
The opposition have accused the government of pushing a beef ban through the back door in keeping with the BJP’s Hindutva agenda.
The government’s decision badly hurt the poor farmers, leather traders and squeezed supplies to the country’s Rs 1 lakh-crore ( billion rupee) meat industry. Farmers have been deprived of a traditional source of income from selling non-milch and ageing cattle.
On the other hand, the ban has hurt mostly Muslim meat and leather traders who face mounting violence by cow vigilante groups.