Neelam Jeena / New Delhi
Several experts have welcomed the Apex Court’s orders staying the Centre’s cattle trade notification which triggered a debate on its purpose and consequences.
Terming the notification as anti-farmer, a section of experts here said that the notification needed a review and would not be able to stand judicial scrutiny in its present form.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed Centre’s May 26 notification banning cattle sale and purchase in livestock markets for slaughter. The Court directed the Centre to keep cattle sale rules framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in abeyance till a revised notification is issued.
In a panel discussion organised on livestock issues by Indian Women Press Corps IWPC yesterday, constitutional expert PDT Achary, economist Vivek Rawal and farmer leader NT Shukla spoke in detail about the scope of the notification, its economic impact and legal validity.
Former Lok Sabha Secretary General Achary said the Centre’s notification was an encroachment on state’s powers to regulate cattle trade. “Cow slaughter cannot be a matter of legislation by the Centre because it is on the state list,” Mr Achary said, questioning the constitutional validity of the Centre’s notification.
He said several states had challenged it in court on grounds that it impinged on state powers to regulate cattle trade, interfered with people’s food habits, and spelt trouble for the meat industry.
Mr Achary said state assemblies of Kerala and Meghalaya had passed resolutions against the notification, refusing to implement it. “More so, without the cooperation of the state governments, it becomes impossible for the Centre to impose its will. The government should have taken the advice of states before announcing this notification,” he noted.
All India Kisan Sabha Joint Secretary N T Shukla said the organization had challenged the May 23 notification the court saying the rules “effectively choked” free movement of animals via market spaces and completely undermined the rights of farmers, traders and others whose livelihoods are linked to this production cycle.
He said the notification would have completely jolted rural economy because farmer sells his old cattle to raise funds to buy new cattle or invest in farm equipment.
“It’s very difficult to keep redundant animals and farmers therefore sell old cattle. Also, it is not practical for small traders to supply stock directly to slaughter houses. The scarcity of animals will further hurt the tanning and leather industries. When supply is reduced, demand increases. Consumers will be forced to pay more for dairy products,” said Mr Shukla expressing apprehensions that the move may help foreign companies invested in dairy enter Indian markets.
Explaining the effects of the notification on rural economy, Vikas Rawal, Professor of Economics at JNU, said the idea of banning cow slaughter is “terrible and ridiculous” and added that a ban would have drained country’s economy as the annual budget to simply feed additional heads of cattle would be much more than the entire defence budget of India.
According to Rawal, as more and more farmers are farming with the help of machines, bullocks are become redundant. “Even poor farmers are using machines. It becomes difficult for farmers to keep redundant animals (cows and bullocks) and feed them. And if they do not give these animals to butchers, animals will starve to death. We should build modern abattoirs,” said Prof Rawal.