The Karnataka cabinet on Monday decided to promulgate an ordinance to bring the Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill (2020) into force. The legislation which was cleared by the assembly on December 9, hit a roadblock in the legislative council the next day.
The bill will be now sent to the Governor in Raj Bhavan for approval. “In a few days, it will be a law. No more cattle slaughter in the state, BJP is firm on protecting cows so the Bill has been implemented through an ordinance,” State Animal husbandry minister Prabhu Chavan said.
Earlier this month, the BJP government in Karnataka passed the controversial Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2020 in the Legislative Assembly, but not in the Legislative Council. The bill, which replaces the less-stringent 1964 cow protection legislation that prohibited slaughter of cows in the state, bans the slaughter of cattle, whose definition it has expanded to include “cow, calf of a cow and bull, bullock and he or she buffalo”. The bill, when implemented, will mean a blanket ban on beef in the southern state.
After the cabinet meeting, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J C Madhuswamy said that “however, slaughter houses will continue to function and beef consumption will not be prohibited. When the new law kicks in, there will be a blanket prohibition of slaughter of cows in the state.
“The anti-cow slaughter law is not new. We have had it for decades. Previously, there was a ban on slaughter of cows until the age of thirteen. We have just extended it with the intention that older cows should not be abandoned. Since the prohibition does not extend to buffaloes, there is no ban on beef consumption,” Madhuswamy said.
“There is a confusion in the earlier law. there was much scope for litigation on the age of the cows. The new legislation would put an end to such confusion. The government is also looking at building goshalas to ensure that aged cows that are not used for milching, do not become a burden on the farmer,” Madhuswamy added.
The 2020 Bill is a harsher version of a law passed by the BJP in 2010 with BS Yediyurappa as chief minister. It aimed at banning all forms of cattle slaughter by recommending stringent penalties for violators. The bill was shelved in 2013 by the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government after it failed to get the Governor’s assent.
The Congress had then reverted to the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Preservation of Animals Act, 1964, which banned the killing of any cow or calf of she-buffalo. It, however, had certain relaxations like it allowed the slaughter of bullock, buffalo-male or female if it was certified by a competent authority to be above the age of 12 years, incapacitated for breeding or deemed sick.
The Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill-2020 bill proposes a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs five lakh for the offenders. It seeks a total ban on the slaughter of cows in the state and provides for stringent punishment to those who indulge in smuggling, illegal transportation, atrocities on cows and slaughtering them.
On December 15, the bill was listed to be tabled in the Legislative Council, where the ruling BJP does not enjoy a majority. That was not to be. The Council witnessed high drama with members hurling abuses and the Deputy Chairman being pulled down from his seat over a row pertaining to a no-confidence motion. The Council was adjourned sine die within minutes after it met for the day.
After the cabinet approves the bill, Prabhu Chauhan said, “Cow is the root of India’s culture, faith and farmers’ livelihood. All of us must rise above politics to help the growth of the state’s cattle assets. But, opposing this Bill for political reasons and misleading the public is intolerable.”
Citing the 2019 cattle census, Chauhan said 2.38 lakh cows are slaughtered every year. Even a day’s delay would lead to slaughter of 662 cows, he said. “If it continues at this pace, we aren’t far away from a time when cows will only be read about in books. Stopping illegal transportation and slaughtering is our priority,” he said.
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