In­dia’s top court stays ban on cat­tle slaugh­ter

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

In­dia’s top court yes­ter­day stayed a na­tion­wide ban im­posed by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s govern­ment on the sale of cat­tle for slaugh­ter that had pro­voked out­cry in many states. The Supreme Court up­held a de­ci­sion by a lower court stay­ing the ban im­posed in May, which pro­hib­ited the sale and pur­chase of cows-an an­i­mal con­sid­ered sacred for Hin­dus-for slaugh­ter. The sud­den rul­ing had sparked protests against what many saw as an over­reach by the Hindu-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and many states where cow slaugh­ter was le­gal vowed to fight the de­cree.

Pe­ti­tion­ers in the south­ern state of Tamil Nadu launched the first chal­lenge, claim­ing the ban in­fringed their right to eat what they choose, a flash­point is­sue in the Hindu-ma­jor­ity na­tion. Al­le­ga­tions of cow slaugh­ter and beef con­sump­tion against Mus­lims and other mi­nori­ties have trig­gered mur­ders and vi­o­lent reprisals in In­dia, where many are veg­e­tar­ian. “This is a wel­come rul­ing and we ex­pect the court will now look into the con­sti­tu­tional va­lid­ity of the or­der,” Aj­mal Khan, the lawyer who rep­re­sented pe­ti­tion­ers in Tamil Nadu, said. “Our stand is vin­di­cated.”

In its rul­ing, the Supreme Court said the govern­ment had al­ready given it a com­mit­ment that it would re­view the rules on the sale of cat­tle for slaugh­ter. Some states or­ga­nized beef festivals in the days af­ter the ban was an­nounced to protest the mea­sure, while counter ral­lies by BJP sup­port­ers saw cows adorned with flow­ers. The na­tional govern­ment said the ban aimed to reg­u­late the in­dus­try and en­sure the wel­fare of an­i­mals, which of­ten suf­fer cru­elty in mar­kets. But it threat­ened to con­strain In­dia’s sup­ply of beef and leather, two lu­cra­tive ex­port in­dus­tries worth bil­lions.

A sep­a­rate le­gal chal­lenge against the ban was re­jected by a court in Ker­ala, a south­ern state that along with a hand­ful of prov­inces al­low cow slaugh­ter. Killing cows, as well as the pos­ses­sion or con­sump­tion of beef, is banned in most but not all In­dian states. Some im­pose up to life im­pris­on­ment for in­fringe­ments. The fed­eral ban af­fected not just the trade in cows but bulls, bul­locks, buf­faloes, calves and camels. Modi’s BJP pledged to im­pose a coun­try­wide ban on the slaugh­ter of cows ahead of the 2014 na­tional elec­tions, but the fed­eral govern­ment failed to per­suade op­po­si­tion par­ties to back such a law. —AFP

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