Thursday, 30 June, 2022
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Petitioner wants to be consulted before govt amends cattle trade rules

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The environment ministry seeks law ministry’s advice on how to amend the rules; petitioner upset with government’s move.

New Delhi: The environment ministry has written to the law ministry seeking its advice on how the controversial rules banning the sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets can be amended, a senior official said Thursday.

But an animal welfare activist who had campaigned for enforcement of these rules is planning to write to the government saying she had not been consulted by the ministry.

“They have buckled under pressure, and not consulted us ever since there has been talk of rescinding the rules. We plan to raise this concern,” Gauri Maulekhi, a trustee at People for Animals and an aide to woman and child development minister Maneka Gandhi, told ThePrint.

Maulekhi had filed a petition in the Supreme Court in 2014 seeking prevention of smuggling of cattle. The Centre had notified the rules earlier this year after the apex court directed the government to formulate cattle trade rules.

“The rules were made after two and a half years of consultations, and a certain amount of reasoning. If they’re being undone, that too needs to happen with a certain degree of reasoning,” she added, calling the government’s move “arbitrary”.

The rules, which seek to regulate the trade in cows, buffaloes, bulls, bullocks, heifers, calves and camels in cattle markets in order to ensure that cattle are traded only for agricultural purposes and not for slaughter, had been severely criticised by various states since regulating cattle trade is a state subject.

In the face of increased instances of violence by cow protection groups, the BJP was also criticised for seeking to push its ideological agenda through the notification.

While the government has not confirmed that there would be a complete rollback on the notification, environment minister Harsh Vardhan had earlier indicated that the government may lift the ban.

Jayasimha Nuggehalli, the lawyer who helped draft the rules, also stressed that the government should not make any move without proper consultation.

“We are willing to give the government the benefit of doubt that it will involve us in the consultation process in future. If they kill the meaning of the amendment, we will challenge it like we did in the case of Jallikattu,” he said.

Speculation is also rife that the government may remove buffaloes from the list. Nuggehalli said that if the government can documentarily prove that buffaloes feel less pain than other animals, “I’m willing to buy their argument, otherwise it’s just arbitrary”.

“The reason to remove a law cannot be political pressure,” added Maulekhi. “It is irresponsible of the government to play seesaw on this issue.”

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