Bengaluru: Karnataka Cabinet on Monday opted to take the ordinance route to enact the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill (2020) that was passed nearly three weeks in the Assembly after hurriedly tabling it amid opposition protests.
Th contentious bill is also known as the anti-Cow slaughter Bill that will now be sent to the Governor for approval. Once it comes into effect, there will be a blanket prohibition of slaughter of cows in the state.
Seaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting here, Law and parliamentary affairs minister, J. C. Madhuswamy for the first time since the contentious bill was passed in the Assembly three weeks ago clarified that slaughter houses will continue to function and beef consumption will not be prohibited with respect to buffalo meat.
“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 13. We have extended it with an intention that older cows should not be left out. Since the prohibition does not extend to buffaloes, there is no ban on beef consumption,” he said.
He added that the ordinance is likely to be sent to the Governor within a day for his assent.
The government is also considering building ‘go shalas’ (cow shelters) to ensure that aged cows that stop milching do not become a burden on the farmer, he said.
The Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill – 2020 bill proposes a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment and fine of Rs Five lakh for the first time offenders.
It seeks a total ban on 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.
The government had to opt for the ordinance route as the Bill passed by the legislative assembly earlier this month in the winter session amid din and stiff opposition from both the Congress and Janata Dal (S), in the Legislative Council, therefore the ruling BJP opted to bring this bill through the ordinance route.
“Illegal selling, transportation or culling of cows (has been) made punishable. If a cow has contracted a disease which can spread to other cattle, then it can be culled/slaughtered,” Madhuswamy said.
He added that section 1 (2) of the Bill read, “‘Cattle’ means cow, calf of a cow and bull, bullock and he or she buffalo below the age of thirteen years.”
A police officer above the rank of sub-inspector, if he has reason to believe that an offence under this Act has been committed, can inspect any premises and conduct a search, the bill added.
The legislative council was adjourned sine die twice even before the bill was tabled there for passage.
For any bill to become law, its passage in the legislative council, followed by assent by the Governor, is necessary.
Noting that objections the Centre had on the then BJP government’s anti cow slaughter bill of 2010 havr been addressed, Animal Husbandry, Haj and Wakf Minister Prabhu Chauhan said the earlier one also prohibited slaughtering of buffaloes.
In the present Bill, the prohibition is for slaughtering of buffaloes until the age of 13, he said.
In a statement released by his office, he said cow is the root of India’s culture, faith and farmers’ livelihood.
Expressing concern over the decline in the number of cows year after year, he called on everyone to rise above politics to work towards the growth of the state’s cattle assets.
“Opposing the Bill just for the sake of politics and misleading the public is intolerable,” he said.
Citing the 2019 cattle census, Chauhan said 2.38 lakh cows are slaughtered annually.
“Even a day’s delay would lead to slaughter of 662 cows. 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 asserted.
Despite resistance from the opposition, the then BJP government led by Yediyurappa in 2010 had got the controversial Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill passed, that proposed to replace the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964.
The bill had widened the definition of ‘cattle’ and imposed a blanket ban on cattle slaughter, coupled with stringent penalty clauses for violation.
However, the Siddaramaiah headed Congress government that came to power in 2013 withdrew the bill that was before the President for his assent.
After BJP came back to power in the state, several party leaders have been making a pitch to re-enact the anti-cow slaughter law.
Chauhan, along with officials, had even travelled to Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat to study and gather information on implementation of the laws there, before bringing the 2020 bill to assembly earlier this month./Eom/800 words
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