The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court today said the rule will remain suspended in Tamil Nadu for a month and asked the Centre and the state governments to respond to the petitioner's contention that the order violates the basic right of a person to choose what he eats. The Chief Ministers of Bengal, Kerala and a few other states have accused the Centre of overstepping its limits and infringing on states' rights.
Mr Naidu said the rule was framed with the "larger intent of preventing cruelty to animals". They were notified in the backdrop of some observations by the Supreme Court and a parliamentary committee of the home department "on preventing cruelty to animals and breaking the nexus in the animal market, including smuggling," he said.
The two-year-old Supreme Court order the government referred to asked for guidelines to prevent smuggling of cattle into Nepal. The court had asked that a panel of multiple stakeholders be involved in drawing up the guidelines - including the government and non-profits.
Yesterday, as the protests spread, sources said the environment ministry -- which sent the notification -- is examining the possibility of changing the definition of cattle by excluding buffaloes. In its notification, the ministry had included bulls, bullocks, cows, buffalos, steers, heifers, calves and camels in the category.
Critics have questioned why only bovines were included in the new rule, which has come under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Chicken, goats and lambs, they said have been excluded from its ambit.
The top court in 2015 asked for guidelines to be framed by a panel of multiple stakeholders including the government and NGOs to prevent cattle from being smuggled into Nepal for slaughter at a religious festival.