What Constitution says of the cow

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The Rajasthan High Court on May 31 suggested to the Centre to make cow as the national animal of India. It also called for increasing punishment for cow slaughter to life imprisonment. A single-judge bench of Justice Mahesh Chand Sharma said the chief secretary and advocate general of the state will be the legal custodians of the cow.

“Nepal is a Hindu nation and has declared cow as the national animal. India is a predominant agriculture country based in animal rearing. As per Article 48 and 51A (g) it is expected from the state government that they should take action to get a legal entity for the cow in this country,” he said in his order.

Article 48 of the Constitution says the State should take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle, Article 51A(g)  speaks of protecting natural environment and having compassion for living creatures.

Article 48, which is a Directive Principle of State Policy, mandates the state to prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle. It says: The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.

On October 26, 2005, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of anti-cow slaughter laws enacted in all states barring a few states like Kerala, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim. On 26 May 2017, the Ministry of Environment imposed a ban on the sale of cows and buffaloes for slaughter at animal markets across India.

On 30th May, the Madras High Court Bench in Madurai on stayed the operation of Rules 22(b)(iii) and 22(e) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules 2017, notified by the Centre on May 23. The new rules ban the sale of bulls, bullocks, cows, buffaloes, steers, heifers, calves and camels for slaughter in ‘animal markets.’ It noted that the particular rule was introduced not by Parliament but by the Executive, and that the primary aspect that the subject of law under consideration was in the State list.