Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi claiming that the Centre’s ban on sale and purchase of cattle at animal markets for slaughter was “unconstitutional” and that it would have a “far-reaching negative impact” on the society and economy. In his letter to the prime minister, the Congress leader urged him to reconsider the matter afresh by repealing the rules in the “larger interest of the farmers and society”.
“The said rules prescribe certain restrictions on the cattle trade. I would like to bring to your kind attention that these rules are unconstitutional and will have a far-reaching negative impact on the Indian society and economy,” he said.
Siddaramaiah added that the rules should have been introduced after a detailed consultation with the states.
“The absence of efforts to take the states into confidence on such an important matter hits at the very roots of federalism,” he said.
The Environment Ministry has recently notified the stringent Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, banning the sale and purchase of cattle at the animal markets for the purpose of slaughter. The decision has drawn flak from the opposition parties as well as various organisations who have claimed that it would hit the export and trade of meat and leather.
Pointing out that the rules, if implemented in their letter and spirit, would “defeat the very purpose” of certain sections of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, Siddaramaiah said the rules pertaining to the constitution of animal market monitoring committees and animal market committees would “disturb a well established structure”, which was in accordance with the Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) Act.
The rules that mandated providing documentary proof that the cattle would only be traded for agricultural or domestic purposes would subject the farmers to an additional financial burden, thereby contributing further to the agrarian crisis, he said, citing the case of old and unproductive cattle. Noting that the state already had the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964 to deal with these issues, the chief minister highlighted the areas where the rules were “in contravention” with the provisions of the state law.
He claimed that the rules also indirectly prohibited the sale of animals outside the state which, he said, was “against the provision of the Constitution”, which allowed a free trade of livestock. Thus, the rules interfered with a subject on the State List, without the consent of the state government, Siddaramaiah wrote in his letter to Modi.
Pointing out that meat was a key source of protein for the poor, he said it was consumed by people of all the faiths and not only by the minorities and Dalits.
“The said rules of the Government of India bring in unfair and unnecessary dietary restrictions,” he added. The rules would “negatively” affect the meat and leather industries and the lives of lakhs of people who depended on them, Siddaramaiah said, adding that they would also “destroy” many public sector meat-processing units, which in turn would “adversely affect the country’s economy”.