[Adya Jha and Jasel Mundhra, students from the West Bengal National University Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, write about Cross-Border Smuggling and the Prevention of Cruelty.]
On March 5, 2015, the State of Maharashtra imposed a ban on the slaughter of all cattle, and prohibited the transport of cattle out of the state, leading to devastating effects. It began with an immediate loss of livelihood for persons crucially dependent on this trade, such as butchers, slaughter-house owners, and leather-workers. This was followed by the destruction of the production cycle of cattle, which led to a loss of livelihood for farmers, who often depend on this trade to sustain them. In the present day, the ban has resulted in the distress sale of cattle, for prices far lower than that required by farmers to replace old, unusable cattle with new animals, thereby resulting in farmers and cattle owners finding themselves in a desperate situation – incurring losses they cannot bear, for animals which provide little to no economic value. Despite the entry of markets and fairs in the state list, the Central Government recently attempted to regulate the trade of cattle under the garb of prevention of cruelty to animals. The Ministry of Environment notified the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules 2017 with twin objectives of preventing cruelty and curbing illicit cattle trading at the country’s border. Owing to the widespread criticism due to the indirect ban on cattle slaughter, the government replaced these rules with a draft regulation titled ‘Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Animal Markets Rules 2018’.