Observing that food was a 'basic right', the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court today ordered a four-week stay on the Centre's controversial ban on cattle slaughter. The Court gave the Tamil Nadu State and the Centre four weeks to file their responses. 

The Court was reacting to a petition filed by Selvagomathi and Asik Elahi Baba, who contended that no one had the right to dictate what food they ate. The Court seemed to agree, asking what right the Government had to interfere in such matters. 

The order was passed by a bench consisting of Justice MV Muralidharan and Justice CV Karthikeyan. 

The petition was in reaction to the Centre's new rules, notified last week, which banned the purchase and sale of cattle from any animal, livestock market for slaughter or religious sacrifice. Bulls, bullocks, cows, buffaloes, steers, heifers, calves and even camels came under the law, which sought to halt the sale of these animals specifically for slaughter. 

While a blow to those who eat the meat, the rules also came as a shock to the leather industry, which was left unsure about how to procure skins.