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Holy Cow

With the Delhi Govt caught in a controversy regarding the serving of beef at the Commonwealth Games,The Indian Express takes...

With the Delhi Govt caught in a controversy regarding the serving of beef at the Commonwealth Games,The Indian Express takes a look at the position across various states with regard to cow slaughter


The Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act was implemented in March 1994 and was framed to replace the Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act,1955,extended by the Centre to Delhi in 1966. The law imposes a ‘total’ prohibition on the slaughter of cows,calves,bulls and bullocks defined as ‘agricultural cattle’. The law prohibits the transport or export,sale or purchase of agricultural cattle for slaughter. People who wish to export cattle for any other purpose to neighbouring states and Union Territories are required to take permission of the Veterinary Officer in charge,with details on purpose,age,sex and destination. The law prohibits the export of agricultural cattle to a state/ Union Territory where slaughter of agricultural cattle is not banned by law. The offences are cognisable and non-bailable. The punishment is imprisonment up to five years and a fine which may be extended to Rs 10,000.


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Cow slaughter has been banned in Uttar Pradesh since 1955. The law,UP Cow Slaughter (Prevention) Act,1955,banning cow slaughter was enacted during the first Congress regime after Independence,led by the party’s stalwart Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant in 1955. However,the law permitted slaughter of old and dry cows after prior permission from the Animal Husbandry Department. The BJP-led government,headed by Rajnath Singh,in 2002,introduced an amendment to the Act,imposing a blanket ban on the cow slaughter. The earlier BJP government in 1991-92,headed by Kalyan Singh,had attempted to introduce similar amendments for imposing a complete ban on cow slaughter.


Slaughter of all bovines is prohibited in the state. Possession,sale,transport of beef and beef products is prohibited. Export of bovine animals for slaughter is prohibited. Custody of seized animals to be given to any recognised voluntary animal welfare agency,or to any goshala,gosadan. Violation of the above invites imprisonment of one to two years and a fine up to Rs 10,000.


There is no law related to beef consumption in the state,and cow slaughter is permitted.


As per a 1976 government order,slaughter of cows and heifers is banned in all slaughter-houses in Tamil Nadu. Though this ban is not stringently implemented,there is a cultural stigma attached to consuming cow meat. Beef dishes are not available on the menu of any good restaurants.


Under the Orissa Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act,1960,killing of cows is totally prohibited. It is a cognisable offence and carries penal provision of imprisonment up to maximum of two years or a fine up to Rs 1,000 or both. While the slaughter of a heifer or a calf is prohibited,that of a bull,bullock is allowed on the production of fit-for-slaughter certificate if the animal is over 14 years of age or has become permanently unfit for breeding.



Madhya Pradesh,like Gujarat,has imposed a total ban on cow slaughter. The BJP government has sent the Centre a draft of the Madhya Pradesh Gauvansh Vadh Pratishedh (Sanshodhan) Vidheyak,2007,which sought to amend an existing legislation by increasing the punishment for cow slaughter to 10 years. The Centre returned the draft asking the state to reduce the jail term saying it was too harsh.


Beef is widely consumed in Kerala and is the cheapest meat available. As slaughter is banned in neighouring Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,a large number of cows and buffaloes are illegally smuggled into the state. According to the state economic review-2009,there is no authentic data on the cattle being slaughtered in Kerala. In a survey conducted in 2006,the government had identified 4,904 slaughter houses,of which only 30 per cent were authorised.


The Assam Cattle Preservation Act,1951,(amended in 1963) prohibits slaughter of cattle.



There is a complete ban on cow slaughter in Punjab. A proposal to set up a Cow Service Board is under the consideration of the state government. The Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act,1955, is aimed at checking cow slaughter. The police department has issued instructions to SSPs in all districts for strict implementation of the Act.


The Himachal Pradesh (Prohibition) of Cow Slaughter Act,1979,prescribes a punishment of up to five years’ RI and a fine of Rs 5,000 or both on person involved in the crime or even abetting the slaughter of cow,bull,bullock,ox or calf. Even the person who suppresses information pertaining to such a crime is punishable with imprisonment of two years and a fine up to Rs 200 or both.


The Maharashtra government permits slaughtering and production of beef through authorised abbatoirs set up by local municipal corporations. Buffaloes and bullocks above the age of 12-13 years can be slaughtered. Officials say only animals which cannot reproduce or are of no use for agricultural purposes are allowed to be slaughtered.


The law against cow slaughter was made way back in 1896 when the then Maharaja of Kashmir in an advertisement sanctioned by a state council resolution banned transport,slaughter and even selling of beef in the state. According to Advocate General Ishaq Qadiri,“In J-K you are not permitted to run a beef shop.”


Under the West Bengal Animal Slaughter Act,1950,one needs to produce a ‘fit-for-slaughter’ certificate. The animals included in the Act are bulls,bullocks,cows,calves and buffaloes of all types/ages. The certificate is given if animal is over 14 and/or unfit for work or breeding.

First published on: 30-03-2010 at 01:17 IST
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