A gazette notification, titled Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017, by the ministry says no one can bring cattle to animal markets unless he or she has furnished a written declaration that the cattle will not be sold for the objective of slaughter.
It said cattle markets meant for the sale of agricultural bulls and dairy animals often facilitate the sale of unproductive dairy animals and newborn male calves for slaughter. To ensure the rules are implemented, undertakings will have to be taken in the market by "District Animal Market Monitoring Committee" (at district level) and "Animal Market Committee" at local level.
Anyone seeking to sell cattle at a market would need to furnish identification documents - both for himself and the animal - creating what one commentator called "a cow bureaucracy in the 21st century".
Under a different set of Rules, also notified on May 23, even abandoned cattle and those seized under the Act and put up for adoption can not be sold for slaughter. Farmers will also be hit because they will be deprived of a traditional source of income from selling non-milch and ageing cattle.
According to Indian media, as of March, cow slaughter had been prohibited in 84% of states and union territories, which account for 99.38% of the population. "Casting animals on hard ground without adequate bedding, forcing animals to perform any unnatural acts, such as dancing, putting any ornaments or decorative materials on animals, use of any type of muzzle to prevent animals from suckling or eating food and others", the notification said. A senior environment ministry official told PTI that the notification is in the direction of animal welfare.
The Union Environment Ministry yesterday modified the animal cruelty rules, making it mandatory to ensure the cattle are not bought or sold with a goal of slaughtering. Since last 15 years it has become only for butchers who pretend to be farmers and purchase cattle from the market. Most states in India hold weekly animal markets and many states operate them near borders to attract traders from neighbouring states. The ban, it may be noted, came into place following notification of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act by the Central government.
He clarified that the rules are applicable only on cattle and do not cover other areas like direct purchase from the farms.