The Environment Ministry has put restrictions on the sale of cattle and has banned the slaughter of cows across India.

The Ministry issued a gazette notification ‘Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017’. Accordingly, the cows cannot be sold unless the person has a written document furnished by the animal market committee that the cow is being sold or purchased for agricultural purpose only and not for slaughter.

However, the contention is the livestock is a state subject, and it practically may not be easy for the Centre to implement the new rule in all states. Thus according to the new notification, cows can be purchased by or sold only to farmers having proper revenue documents. Even the farmer is banned from selling cows to the slaughterhouse or for sacrifice.

The classification of cattle also includes ‘bovine animals’ – bulls, cows, buffaloes, steers, heifers, calves and camels. The notification states that ‘A marketplace or sale yard or any other premises or place to which animals are brought from other places and exposed for sale or auction and includes any lairage adjourning a market or a slaughterhouse.

Now, the cattle cannot be sold outside a state without procuring prior permission in accordance with the state cattle protection laws. In addition, the animal markets cannot be set up within 25 km of state borders. Even cow vigilantes have been brought under the ambit of the new rules as even the gaurakshaks, and their organisations should have proper documents before giving the cows for adoption.

However, the parent act on prohibiting cattle slaughter under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and Section 37 and Section 38 says that the central government does have the power to introduce such a regulation.

The Supreme Court in January, this year, while hearing a PIL to ban nationwide cow slaughter had declined to entertain it as it was a state subject. “One state may ban slaughter; the other may not… we will not interfere in state laws,” the Supreme Court had said reported Nagpur Today.