The Hindu – Are cattle trade rules good in law?

Question before Supreme Court is if they override animal cruelty Act

Krishnadas Rajagopal

New Delhi, 9 June 2017. One of the primary questions the Supreme Court will have to settle when it starts hearing the challenge to the government’s new notifications banning the sale and trade of cattle in livestock markets for slaughter and animal sacrifices is whether these rules override the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960.

The court has agreed to hear Mohammed Abdul Faheem Qureshi, a Hyderabad-based lawyer and president of All-India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee, who contended that the restrictions are “unconstitutional” and outside the purview of the 1960 Act.

He has argued that the Centre is only empowered by the Act to notify rules which are in furtherance of the purposes of the 1960 Act, cardinally that no animal, not just cattle, is caused unnecessary pain and suffering.

The Supreme Court has consistently said that rules that contravene or rewrite the parent law, in this case the 1960 Act, should be rendered invalid for arbitrariness and unreasonableness. However, the burden to disprove the presumption that these rules are constitutional and valid lies with the petitioner.

Mr. Qureshi has to prove that the government lacked legislative competence to make the subordinate legislation. That the rules are a violation of the guaranteed fundamental and constitutional rights.

Caution required

“Where a Rule is directly inconsistent with a mandatory provision of the statute, then of course the task of the court is simple and easy. But where the contention is that the inconsistency or non-conformity of the Rule is not with reference to any specific provision of the enabling Act, but with the object and scheme of the Parent Act, the court should proceed with caution before declaring invalidity,” the Supreme Court observed in its State of Tamil Nadu versus P Krishnamoorthy judgment.

In the Indian Express Newspapers case, the court held that “a piece of subordinate legislation does not carry the same degree of immunity enjoyed by a statute passed by a competent legislature”.

In the Employees Welfare Association case, it held that Rules are liable to be declared invalid if they are manifestly unjust, oppressive, outrageous, violative of the general principles of the law, vague, unreasonable or discloses bad faith.


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