KERALA: LDF Govt Convenes Special Session of Assembly on Cattle Sale Restrictions

Below we publish the excerpts of the speech made by Pinarayi Vijayan, chief minister of Kerala at the special session of the state assembly called to discuss the central government's recent order restricting cattle trade. The session was held on June 8.

A GAZETTE notification was made by the central government on May 23 so as to introduce rules on the basis of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960.

However, this notification has in effect completely banned the slaughter of cattle. For the country at large and Kerala in particular, this notification will have long term ramifications on jobs, trade and food security. Malnutrition induced by this ban can precipitate a health crisis. These rules also amount to an infringement over the rights of the states.

It was in this context that it was decided to convene a special session of the assembly and create consensus on the future course of action based on the deliberations.

In the guise of preventing cruelty to animals, the central government is denying the fundamental rights to livelihood and food, of our citizens. This will drive hundreds of thousands of people to poverty.

The notification prevents the sale of cattle for non agricultural purposes and to abattoirs. It also prevents the sale of calves. The notification also makes irrational and impractical demands that farmers should have in their possession detailed identification certificates of the cattle. This will be a great setback for our farmers.

The centre’s notification is detrimental to the meat industry in Kerala. The new rules are non-viable in a state like Kerala where 95 percentage of people eat meat and is an attack on the freedom of our people to consume whatever food they prefer.

There is already a dearth in the supply of cattle to the state from other states. The next stage is that there will be a shortage in milk production and an increase in the price of milk. Proliferation of diseases owing to the lack of nutritious food will also follow it. As animal husbandry becomes non-profitable, it will even push people engaged in the sector to joblessness.

This is a setback for the state government’s efforts to achieve self sufficiency in milk production. Cattle and calves brought by the Diary Development Corporation to increase the milk production in the state come from other states through the cattle markets. New regulations will hamper this process. The new situation will make it difficult to sustain the 15 percentage growth we have achieved in the dairy sector, let alone increasing production.

As it becomes impossible to sell off old and unfit cattle, dairy farmers will end up in a crisis. The cattle will also be forced to lead a miserable life as the farmer cannot meet the expenses of its maintenance. Dairy farmers find the extra income to buy new cattle by selling old and unfit ones in cattle markets. It will not be possible anymore. It is estimated that it will cost the farmer an additional Rs 40,000 per year to maintain unproductive cattle. 40 percentage of the income of dairy farms come from the sale of old and unproductive cattle. In effect, this is a violation of the article 19(1) of the Indian constitution that allows for the practice of any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

There have been several attacks on legally operating inter-state cattle traders even before this notification was announced. With the introduction of the new rules, chances are that these attacks will increase. This will cause law and order problems as well.

It goes without saying that meat is the primary diet of animals in the zoos. For some animals, beef is the only item on their diet. The new restrictions will adversely affect the administration of the zoos. In effect, the provisions of the new rules made in the name of preventing cruelty to animals by the central government will cause serious harm to zoo animals. Animals such as tiger, lion, leopard, crocodile, vulture, eagle, owl and so on are given beef and cattle bones for food. Per day several quintals of it is required in the state. In the absence of it, can we feed our lions and tigers milk and green salad? The fact is that the life of carnivorous animals cannot be sustained without meat.

The gazette notification is not something that affects only a section of the people. It affects people as a whole. In Kerala, about 95 percentage of the population eat non vegetarian food and most of them are ordinary and poor. In their case, the occasional consumption of beef is their source of protein. Beef is consumed because it is cheaper than chicken and mutton. With the restriction on beef, the price of other meats will rise; even fish and vegetable prices will rise. On the whole, this is a decision that will cause price rise and increase the cost of living.

Small traders will be completely excluded from the meat export industry because of these regulations. Beef export had even gone up by 35 percentage over the last three years. It needs to be doubted if these new notifications are the efforts of corporate houses to take over this bourgeoning business. An average farmer has restrictions on taking his cattle to the market for sale. However, there are no restrictions on animal farms, slaughter houses and meat processing units owned by corporate houses which export their meat products.

Animal skin is the primary raw material in the leather industry. Around 2.5 million people work in India’s leather industry, and most of them are dalits. When this industry is destroyed, it wreaks havoc on the lives of those who are engaged in it. In short, the central government has pushed farmers, small traders, workers and dalits further into misery with these new rules.

The new rules introduced in the guise of preventing cruelty to animals is against the spirit of our constitution, violates the principles of federalism and is in contradiction to the parent act itself.

The Indian constitution has clearly laid out the powers of the centre and the states in framing laws. The parliament does not have the authority to frame laws on matters which fall under the state list. The central government also does not have the authority to issue orders regarding them. Preservation and protection of the livestock belongs to the state list in the seventh schedule of the constitution. The parliament has no right to create laws or pass orders on this and therefore has no powers to notify rules on it either. The new notification therefore amounts to usurpation of the rights of states. It is a violation of our constitution.

Three norms must be followed when rules are notified:

1) It must serve the intended purpose.

2) It must work in the limited framework that the law delegates.

3) It must not violate fundamental rights.

It is evident that the new notification clearly violates these norms.

Slaughtering for food is allowed under section 11(3)E of the respective Act. Hence, disallowing the sale for slaughter in markets under the present rule is illegal.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is intended to cover all animals except human beings. Therefore, selecting only a few animals and preventing their sale for slaughter is in contradiction to the original purpose of the Act itself.

Invasive law-making on the food habits of people is a denial of the right to live, which is ensured by the Fundamental Rights under Article 21 of the Indian constitution.

There is no refuting the fact that these rules were introduced by the central government only to implement the Sangh Parivar’s political agenda. They have not been able to fulfill anyone of their promises to the Indian people over the last three years. Having failed miserably in all fields including agriculture, industry and employment, the central government is only trying to gain political mileage by dividing the people through communal polarisation by taking up issues like the prevention of cattle slaughter.

These rules will wreck our agriculture, industries and employment. It violates the fundamental right to life of our citizens. It is an encroachment on the constitutionally accorded rights of the states. Considering the public interest of our people, these new rules should be repealed.

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