Why can’t a person slaughter an animal and eat it, the court observed during the hearing on livestock rules.
The stay will come as a boost for the livestock industry, which had opposed the rule saying it would affect the meat production industry and livelihoods.
The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court had earlier stayed certain portions of the rule, including the requirement that those trading in animal markets should give an undertaking that the animal would not be slaughtered.
The apex court, while staying the whole rule, cited other clauses.
For example, one clause barred a purchaser from selling the animal within six months.
The buyer was required to keep the certificate of purchase for inspection by an animal inspector. “Why are you always presuming that animals are cows or bulls? It could be chicken,” Chief Justice JS Khehar said. “Why can’t a man take it home and eat it?” At another point in the hearing he said: “Slaughter is not cruelty.” The new rule on livestock trade, notified on May 23, also disallowed slaughter of animals in the name of religion, which was allowed under the Prevention of Cruelty Act.
The government, through Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha, told the bench comprising CJI Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud, that the May 23 rule was already under review, and assured the court that it would not be given effect to in the interim.
“We are in the process of reviewing these rules in consultation with all stake-holders and it’s nobody’s case that it would not be placed before Parliament,” Narasimha said.
However, the bench disagreed and said since the rule was already notified, the court was staying it till such time a final verdict was passed. “The rules have statutory force, you can’t say you won’t implement,” the CJI observed.
Narasimha argued that the rule was intended to prevent any cruelty to animals and issued under the concurrent list. He said animal markets were purely for trade; those for slaughter were to be picked up directly from farms by aggregators.
Both would be governed by different regimes, he said. “The government is concerned by the huge illegal exports of meat.