Amid a series of incidents of mob violence related to cow vigilantism in Rajasthan, the Union Home Ministry is considering a proposal from the Vasundhara Raje government to amend the Rajasthan Bovine Animals (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act.
“We have received the Bill from the Rajasthan government and it is under process. Views have been sought from the ministries concerned,” a home ministry spokesperson said.
Sources said the proposal would seek the exclusion of buffaloes and its progenies from the list of bovine mentioned in the Act. It would also empower the state to seize vehicles used in the illegal transportation of cows and make arrests.
The Rajasthan Bovine Animals Act was first enacted in 1995. Since then, there have been several amendments, such as banning the slaughter and transportation of bovine.
Home ministry officials said the suggestion to exclude buffaloes and its progenies from the list of bovine was made after legal opinion pointed to a central law that makes a distinction between cows and buffaloes, and excludes buffaloes from the list of bovine. It clarifies that ‘bovine animal’ means and includes cow, calf, heifer, bull and bullock, a senior government official said.
The state Act makes no distinction between cow and buffalo, so the move to amend it may bring relief to meat traders in Rajasthan from cow vigilantes, officials said. The Rajasthan Assembly had cleared the Bill in March this year and sent it to President Ram Nath Kovind for assent.
The Assembly had also approved amendments, incorporating provisions of arrest and seizure of vehicles carrying cow progeny. The previous Act prohibited transportation of bovine animals but did not have provisions for seizing the vehicle used in such an act or for arresting the persons engaged in cow smuggling.
Bills from a state government are received (under Article 200 read with Article 254(2) of the Constitution of India) for consideration and assent of the President under Article 201 of the Constitution. The state legislation are examined in consultation with central ministries and departments to overcome repugnancy with central laws, if any, deviation from national or central policy, and legal and constitutional validity, another official said.
The President’s secretariat often advises the state governments to modify provisions of such Bills where the home ministry points to repugnance of central law, deviation from national policy or legal issues, the official added.
As many as 20 states have various regulations on slaughter or sale of cows. Slaughter of buffaloes is banned in 15 states. In the latest incident in Rajasthan, 28-year-old Rakbar Khan was beaten to death on suspicion of cow smuggling in Alwar. Last year, a milk seller, Pehlu Khan (55) was killed by a cow protection group on similar suspicion. Those arrested for the attack on Pehlu were subsequently released on bail.