Rules Against The Law

Why the Centre’s notification against cattle slaughter is controversial

Written by P D T Achary | Published: July 6, 2017 1:54 am
cattle slaughter, cattle slaughter ban, cow slaughter law, beef ban, cattle sale ban, india news The argument that sale of cattle for slaughter outside the cattle market is not prohibited has no merit as that is not the subject matter of the above notification.

The cattle market notification issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests on May 23 has heated up the debate on cow slaughter. The notification is flawed on two counts. One, it imposes a total ban on the sale of the cattle in the cattle market for slaughter. Prohibition of slaughter of cattle falls in the State List under the Constitution’s Seventh Schedule.`

The Centre cannot make a law or subordinate legislation on this subject. It is rather disingenuous to argue that the notification deals only with sale or purchase of cattle. It clearly and directly prohibits slaughter and is, therefore, outside the jurisdiction of the Centre. The argument that sale of cattle for slaughter outside the cattle market is not prohibited has no merit as that is not the subject matter of the above notification.

Secondly, rule 22 of the notification is outside the scope of the parent act, namely the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. When Parliament makes a law it delegates to the government the power to make rules for its implementation. The rules cannot exceed the scope of the Act under which it is made. They cannot propound a policy which is not germane to the parent law.

The Supreme Court has delivered a number of judgments on the exact scope of the rules made under an Act. In Shiv Kirpal Singh vs. V.V. Giri (1970) the Court held that any rule made in contravention of the provisions of the Act would be declared void on the ground that it goes beyond the scope of the power conferred on the government. Similarly, in Hukam Chand v. Union of India (AIR 1972, SC2427) the Court observed “the extent and amplitude of the rule making power would depend upon and be governed by the language of the section. If a particular rule were not to fall within the ambit and purview of the section, the Central government in such an event would have no power to make that rule”.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was enacted to “prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals”. This law was not enacted to prohibit the slaughter of cattle. It is interesting to note that Section 11 (3) (e) of this law says that any act committed in the course of killing an animal for human food does not come within its purview. But the caveat is that such act should not be accompanied by the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.

How can the government, then, issue a notification prohibiting the sale or purchase of cattle in the cattle market for slaughter, in effect prohibiting slaughter of cattle? This rule amounts to saying that selling or purchasing cattle for slaughter is an act of cruelty. Obviously, the rule is in violation of the parent Act. As per the observation of the Supreme Court, quoted above, the Centre has no power to make such a rule.

Cow slaughter has always been a sensitive issue in India. It hurts the sentiments of millions of people in the country. No representative government can afford to ignore the matter. Article 48 of the Constitution says that the State shall take special steps for prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves. However, the Constitution makers were wise enough to recognise the diversity of food habits in different parts of the country. Therefore, instead of keeping prohibition of slaughter of cows in the Union List, they put it under the State List. Thus, there is no Central law on prohibition of cow slaughter. Many states have passed stringent laws prohibiting the slaughter of cow. But the problem arises when the Centre attempts to do what the states alone can do under the Constitution.

The May 23 notification does have number of measures aimed at preventing cruelty to animals. Those are well within the scope of the Parent Act. But Rule 22 sticks out like a sore thumb. A revised notification without this rule will put an end to the needless controversy. Going strictly by the Constitution is the safest way for any government to deal with sensitive issues.

The writer is a former secretary general of the Lok Sabha

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  1. Akash Bhagat
    Jul 8, 2017 at 3:55 am
    Sir i gone through the Animal welfare board of India s: awbi /?q node/7 but i have't found the section 11(3)(e). please guide me.
    1. Goyal Anandilal
      Jul 6, 2017 at 10:39 pm
      The Govt.should take up this business in its hand.No licenses be given private parties. This way so many lives of men can be saved from the so called gau rakshaks.
      1. V
        Jul 6, 2017 at 9:22 pm
        Perhaps one of these bhakths could explain how the BJP ban on cattle slaughter is compatible with the Make in India, initiatives in the Leather sector. The Leather sector rakes in USD 17.85 billions / year, employs many in rural areas and is a promising growth industry ref: /1Ois7Xc A shutdown of the leather industry in India is a consequence of the BJP's short-sighted policies. And the winner, paradoxically will be Pakistan ! Ironically, the PM and all his minions and bhakths wear leather shoes !
        1. N
          Jul 6, 2017 at 7:22 pm
          Why don't the Government declare cow as a national animal and killing it will be a punishable act. The rule we have to other animals like tigers, deer etc.... The Govt. won't do it because it knows well that a bulk of population from Hindu community eat beef. And also eastern region and Goa will trash any such move to make eating beef illegal to bin. The Govt. and the Hindu Organizations could only act against Muslims because they are the law binders.
          1. S
            Jul 6, 2017 at 6:24 pm
            This is another legal quibbling which secularist are profoundly adept at. These vultures do not know the sanc y of the promises made to billions of people. The clear mention of cow preservation in the directive principles of the Cons ution is a clear case of assurance to the Hindus that their sensibilities about cow protection will be honoured by India that is Bharat. But these Satanic rulers have subsequently played a fast one on Hindus. They have broken the solemn promise of privy purse given to erstwhile Indian Rulers. Similarly they have converted India into" socialist" and "secularist" through back door. Had they the guts to do so they should have told us Hindus up-front that they wanted to make India a beef eating nation that case we would have perhaps gotten a separate Hindus than for us sparing the likes of these legal vultures to write such stupid justifications for eating beef. Eat beef as much as you want after granting Hindus their separate Hindus than.
            1. jacob skaria
              Jul 6, 2017 at 8:19 pm
              Sir, I got Hindu and Musilm friends,. Musilm never even touch Pork, but many of my Hindu friends enjoy Beef. Kerala Brahmains are pure vegetarian , but B ns of WB enjoy fish, Kashmir enjoy mutton. So don't drag religion to food habit. Having said that I too love COW as basically I am from a village and my childhood I enjoy the company of COW , calf,goat etc. If some body like to eat Cow let him eat to glory as our at ude to most of the domestic animals are cruel and extracting work from them
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