The Kerala government on Wednesday decided to challenge the Centre’s May 26 notification imposing restrictions on sale of cattle for slaughter in court, and to convene a meeting of all chief ministers to discuss the ban and the larger threat it poses to states’ rights.
The decision to call a meeting of chief ministers comes a few days after Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to his counterparts, appealing to them to come together to oppose the Centre’s “anti-federal” move.
“We want to call a meeting of all chief ministers to discuss the issue relating to the ban,” Mr Vijayan told reporters here after a Cabinet meeting.
Mr Vijayan has also called a special state Cabinet meet today to take a decision on whether to challenge the Centre’s decision to frame rules with regard to items that are under the State List in the high court or Supreme Court. This decision will be taken in consultation with the advocate general.
“This (the notification) has to be questioned legally as it is unconstitutional,” Mr Vijayan said.
He said that while the purported objective of the Centre’s notification, based on Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, was to regulate cattle markets, the provisions laid down in it amount to a ban on the slaughter of cattle in the country.
He said that under the PCA Act, the Centre is not empowered to frame rules for regulating cattle markets and that the slaughter of cattle does not come within the purview of parliamentary legislation.
The chief minister added that through the notification, the Centre is trying to intrude into the rights of states guaranteed under the Constitution, and, under the garb of prevention of cruelty to animals, the Centre is depriving people of their right to work and right to do trade.
The notification is a violation of Article 19 of Constitution, which gives citizens the right to practice any profession or carry any occupation trade or business, he added. The annual sale of beef in Kerala is 2.5 lakh tonnes and the trade is worth a whopping Rs 6,552 crore per annum.
Mr Pinarayi said the Centre’s notification will seriously impact trade and employment in cattle sector. Over five lakh people in the state are employed in this sector.
Mr Pinarayi said that slaughter of animals for consumption purposes is permissible under the 1960 Act, but it must be ensured that animals are not subjected to extreme cruelty or pain while being slaughtered. Another set of rules framed in 2001 reinforce these provisions, hence the Centre’s latest notification is irrelevant, he said.
In the Constitution, State List item No. 15 refers to the preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal diseases.
While some states have banned cow slaughter, there are others where it is legal, including Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu.
In his letter to his counterparts, Mr Vijayan had said, “Unless we stand together and oppose this anti-federal, anti- democratic and anti-secular move, it may mark the beginning of a series of similar measures aimed at destroying the federal democratic fabric and secular culture of our country.”
Mr Vijayan had also shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi opposing the ban and urging him to withdraw the new regulations, which is facing protests in some states.
The chief minister listed the many unreasonable conditions laid down under the new notification: ID proof of the cattle owner, identify proof of cattle, including all details, declaration that cattle has not been brought to market for slaughter, clearance by animal market committee, district animal monitoring committee, cattle cannot be sold in six months and cannot be used for religious sacrifice.