Central Government directed to enact laws prohibiting cow slaughter and import and export of cow/calf, selling of beef or beef products

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Addressing the issue regarding of protection of the bovine population, the Division Bench of Rajiv Sharma and Sureshwar Thakur, JJ., directed the Central Government to enact laws prohibiting cow slaughter and import and export of cow/calf, selling of beef or beef products.

The instant petition raised concerns regarding the plight of bovine population in the country. The petitioner drew attention of the Court about the non availability of proper gaushalas/gausadans and how the cows are found abandoned throughout the in State of Himachal Pradesh or transported outside the State for slaughtering.

The Court delved in detail into a wide array of literary material highlighting the importance of cows. Referring to the debates and discussions of the Constituent Assembly and quoting verses of the Upanishads, the Bench highlighted the reverence that cows received since times immemorial and their agricultural importance in the day to day lives of Indians especially farmers. The Bench further pointed out to Entry 15 of the State List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, along with Articles 48 and 51A (g) of the Constitution imposing a duty upon the State and the citizens to prevent slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and draught cattle. Referring to the decisions of the Supreme Court like Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja, (2014) 7 SCC 547, where five internationally recognised freedoms of animals were put forth, it was further stated by the Bench that interpretation of “life” as under Article 21 of the Constitution include all forms of life including animal life, which is equally essential for the sustenance of human life. With these observations, the Court directed the Central Government to consider Entries 17 and 17B of the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule, which gives power to the Union to enact laws prohibiting bovine slaughter and import and export of cattle and beef products. [Bhartiya Govansh Rakshan Sanverdhan Parishad v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine HP 1290 decided on 29.07.2016]

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