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Centre planning to withdraw its ban on sale of cattle for slaughter

The Central government plans to withdraw the ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter in the market, a Ministry of Environment and Forests official told The Indian Express.

The ministry, in its May 23 notification, has sought feedback on changes made to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules, 2017.

The official told the national daily that they have sent a file to the Ministry of Law stating that the ministry is withdrawing the notification due to several issues and will be revising it.

The official, however, said that the time frame for the process has not yet been decided.

After the notification in May, the BJP-led NDA government faced a heavy lash out by the Opposition and the cattle traders for attempting to impose the nationwide ban on ideological grounds.

The ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter, implemented on May 23, not only affected the small traders in the market but also gave rise to vigilantism, which took lives of many during the past few months.

Farmers, too, opposed the move to restrict trade in markets only to animals meant for agricultural use, saying they cannot directly access slaughterhouses.

Farmers normally bring their redundant animals to livestock markets from where traders purchase and transport the cattle to abattoirs.

For the first time in September, Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan indicated that the Centre may lift the ban. He said the rules were a “regulatory regime” for preventing cruelty to animals and the government “did not intend to directly or indirectly affect slaughterhouses or harm farmers” or “influence the food habits of people”.

After this, the ministry asked all the states to send their opinion on the notification that prohibited the sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets.

The Ministry had sent two sets of letters to states – the first was soon after the Supreme Court stayed the ban – reminding them to respond. It had also attached a copy of the notification and said that a new draft would be framed based on feedback. The Ministry also held consultations with animal rights activists and traders on the issue.

The government’s decision in May had sparked outrage, notably from states such as Kerala, West Bengal and Meghalaya on the grounds that it related to an issue under their jurisdiction.

In May-end, the Madras High Court granted an interim stay on the implementation of the rules, specifically Rule 22(b)(iii) that required a person bringing cattle for sale to the market to furnish a written declaration that it would not be sold for slaughter. In July, the Supreme Court extended the stay to the entire country.

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