Is ‘Ghee’ A Livestock Product Or Not? Supreme Court Said This

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An intriguing question came up during a hearing in the Supreme Court on Tuesday – was ‘ghee’ (clarified butter) a livestock product or not? The petitioner had argued that ‘ghee’ is not a product of livestock as cows and buffaloes do not yield it directly.
The top court said that ‘ghee’ is indeed a livestock product and the argument against it “baseless”.

The petition stemmed from the Andhra Pradesh government’s 1994 notification, which grants market committees the authority to levy fees on its sale and purchase. The Supreme Court was tasked with determining whether ‘ghee’ – a staple ingredient in Indian cuisine – qualifies as a livestock product under the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh (Agricultural Produce and Livestock) Markets Act, 1966.

This 1994 notification was met with resistance from producers of livestock products who challenged its validity in the Andhra Pradesh High Court. They contended that ghee cannot be considered a product of livestock and therefore should not be subject to regulation and classification.

The High Court, however, dismissed the contention and asserted that all livestock products fall under the purview of the Livestock Products Act, as defined by the legislation.

The matter eventually reached the Supreme Court, where two key questions were raised: whether ghee qualifies as a “livestock product” under the provisions of the 1966 Act and whether the notification adhered to the prescribed regulations.

On March 5, Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and SV Bhatti delivered a unanimous verdict, affirming ghee as a byproduct of milk, which unequivocally qualifies it as a livestock product.

The top court also acknowledged the High Court rightly held that even though ‘ghee’ is not directly obtained from milk, which is a product of livestock, it would still be a ‘product of a product of livestock’ and that it serves the purpose of the legislation and payment of market fees related to livestock products.

It said that the inclusion of ‘ghee’ as a livestock product cannot be faulted merely because it is derived from another dairy product.

The Supreme Court dismissed the plea filed by Sangam Milk Producer Company Ltd against an Andhra Pradesh High Court judgement, clearing the decks for the imposition of a fee on its sale and purchase through market committees in the state.

With appeals dismissed, the Court rescinded earlier interim orders, allowing market committees to collect fees from appellants in compliance with the High Court’s decision. Recognizing the prolonged delay in fee payments, the Court granted appellants a two-year period to settle the dues in four equal installments.

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