The government has notified a fresh set of draft rules to curb prevention of cruelty to animals, substantially diluting the norms unveiled in May last year that crippled the cattle trade and temporarily hit India’s buffalo meat exports. The draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Animal Markets Rules, 2018, released by the ministry of environment on March 24 omitted the word “slaughter” — the earlier rules, the implementation of which was subsequently stayed by the courts, had disallowed the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets. The new draft, however, merely says that “no unfit animal or young animal shall be sold in an animal market”.
The draft rules also toned down clauses on preventing cruelty and rules for markets in border areas. The public could give feedback to the draft in 30 days, after which the final rules will be notified.
The proposed rules, however, retain the provisions relating to the constitution of a committee that will be entrusted with the task of certifying new animal markets, maintain record of animal sales and ensure good living conditions in markets. The committee will have the power to implement the law under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Animal Markets Rules, 2018.
The draft rules also said that transport of animals across the border is an offence, but there is no criteria on the distance unlike in previous rules that had banned animal markets within 25 km from a state border and within 50 km of the international border.
In 2017, the government had framed the rules to prevent animal cruelty following a Supreme Court order which wanted prevention of illegal trade of cattle. However, the rules notified last year were challenged in various courts and were never implemented following the stay order.