The Supreme Court will next week hear a plea challenging the Centre’s May 23 notification prohibiting sale and purchase of cattle for slaughter in animal markets. Hyderabad-based lawyer Mohammed Abdul Faheem Qureshi has challenged the notification as “arbitrary”. He has called it “violative” of rights, including that of personal liberty and to practice and propagate one’s religion.
Qureshi has sought an ad-interim stay on the notification and an order declaring it unconstitutional. “The complete ban on sale or purchase or resale of animals would cast a huge economic burden on the farmers, cattle traders…’’ the plea said. It added that the farmers and cattle traders find it “difficult to feed their children today’’. Qureshi pleaded that they would be required to feed the cattle as it is an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 to starve an animal. He added that the “failure to maintain’’ the cattle will “also give way for cow vigilantes to harass farmers and cattle traders under the blessing of the impugned regulations’’.
The petitioner called Rule 22 (3) (III) in the notification that “the purchaser of the cattle shall not sacrifice the animal for any religious purpose” as “contrary to the Section 28 (of the 1960 Act) which permits killing of animals for religious purposes”.
Qureshi said that it will thus “offend the right to freedom of religion and conscience’’. He called the notification “arbitrary, inconsistent and outside the purview of parent act and against the freedom of religious practice to sacrifice the animals and also against the intentions of the framers of the
“The right to practice and propagate one’s religion under Article 25 can only be restricted on the grounds of public order morality and health or grounds enumerated under Article 25 (2), only by a law made by the legislature and not by a delegated executive fiat,’’ he said. He added that the provisions have not been made on these grounds or any justification of restriction provided under Article 25 (2). The plea said that the provisions are also not part of a legislature made law and “offend the right to freedom of religion and conscience and therefore void”.
It claimed that the new rules in effect “completely ban” the sale of animals for slaughter in any animal market. The plea said that the definition of animal market under Rule 2 (b) covers all places of sale.