The environment ministry has sought advice from the law ministry as it moves to amend its May notification regulating cattle trade, that many saw as an effective ban on cow slaughter motivated by ideological reasons.
Secretary, Ministry of Environment, said that a final decision regarding amendments has not been made and consultations were ongoing. “We have sent the file to the law ministry,” CK Mishra, said. “We are some distance away from a decision.”
According to various media reports, the May 25 notification sparked protests in many parts of the country, notably in Kerala, West Bengal and Meghalaya where cow slaughter is permitted. While welfare of animals is a union ministry subject, regulation of cattle trade falls within the purview of the state government.
The Madras High Court had granted an interim stay on the implementation of the rules, which was later extended to the entire country in July by the Supreme Court.
The rules, that apply to trade in cows, buffaloes, bulls, bullocks, heifers, calves and camels, aimed to regulate cattle markets so that cattle are traded only for agricultural purposes and not for slaughter. Cattle sellers have to produce a written declaration that the animal was not being sold for slaughter, under the rules.
The notification also limited the trade to farm owners, a move that would have hit poor landless farmers, and restricted supplies to India’s Rs. 1 lakh-crore meat industry.
India is the largest exporter of beef, most of which is buffalo, not cow meat.
The farmer community had opposed the move as well because restricting trade of animals meant for agricultural use in markets would mean that they would have an additional burden of taking unwanted livestock to slaughterhouses, which they cannot access directly.
In September, Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan had hinted that the Centre may bring changes in the notification since the ban sparked major controversies, following which the Ministry asked states to send their opinion on the same.