Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar told The Indian Express on October 15 that Muslims could continue to live in India, but they would have to give up eating beef — a statement for which he later expressed regret. In March this year, the Haryana Assembly unanimously passed a new cow protection law, among the most stringent in the country, making cow slaughter punishable with rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years, and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. This is what the Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015, says.
Definitions of ‘cow’ and ‘beef’
Under the new law, ‘cow’ includes bull, bullock, ox, heifer or calf, as well as a disabled, diseased or a barren cow. ‘Beef’ means the flesh of the ‘cow’ in any form — including flesh that is packed in sealed containers, and which has been imported into the state.
Restrictions on export of cow
Under the law, no person shall export or cause to be exported (out of Haryana) cow for the purpose of slaughter either directly or through his agent or servant, or any other person acting on his behalf… or with the knowledge that it shall be or is likely to be slaughtered. Anyone seeking to send cows out of the state must apply for a permit to the government, stating the reasons and numbers of export, and the destination state, as well as a declaration saying that the cows would not be slaughtered. Permits will be issued at the government’s discretion; permits shall not be issued for export to a state where cow-slaughter is not banned.
Punishment for cow slaughter
Is rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years and may extend to 10 years, and a fine which shall not be less than Rs 30,000, and which may extend to Rs 1 lakh. If the fine is not paid, an additional jail term of up to one year may be imposed. The offence is non-bailable.
Punishment for export without permit
Rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years, and may extend to seven years, and a fine which shall not be less than Rs 30,000, and may extend to Rs 70,000. In case of default, additional imprisonment which may extend to one year may be imposed. Anybody found abetting the offence could face rigorous imprisonment of at least three years and a fine. The vehicle used for the illegal transport of the cow shall be liable to be confiscated.
Powers to enforce the law
Any police officer above the rank of Sub-Inspector, or any person authorised by the government, may enter, stop and search any vehicle used or intended to be used for the export of cows. Cows can be seized if the officer suspects that the law was being violated. The officer can enter and search any premises used or intended to be used for slaughter, and seize any documents regarding activities related to slaughter and export of cow.
Object and purpose of the law
Enacted with the aim to prohibit slaughter of cow and its progeny, conserve and develop indigenous breeds of cows, and to establish institutions to keep, maintain and care for infirm, injured, stray and uneconomic cows in the state. Until the enactment of the new law, the state followed the Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955. This law was found to be ineffective, with an extremely low conviction rate.