Bengaluru: The Karnataka government on Wednesday passed a law to ban the slaughter of all kinds of cattle in the state, except buffaloes that are aged over 13 years.
Amid ruckus, ministers of the BS Yediyurappa government, all donning saffron shawls, presented a united front while the Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chavan tabled the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill. It was subsequently passed even as the Opposition Congress staged a walk out, and vowed to boycott the rest of the Assembly session, calling the sudden passage of the Bill without discussion as an affront to democracy.
The new law not only makes all kinds of cow slaughter as a cognizable offence, it also punishes it with three to seven years in prison. Additionally, a fine of Rs 50,000 per cattle head could also be levied on violators. Besides, transport of cattle within or outside the state for the purpose of slaughter is also banned.
The law further gives overarching search and seizure operations to any competent authority to search and confiscate any premises or vehicles that the officer believes is being used for slaughter or even suspects will be used for such banned slaughter or transport. All it needs is for the officer to have “reason to believe" such an offence has been committed or is going to be.
(A competent authority has been defined as anyone designated who could be anyone above the rank of a sub inspector of police or veterinary officer of the Animal Husbandry dept or a tahsildar of the revenue department.)
The new law also empowers the government to designate special courts to fast track all cases related to violations — that is cases of illegal slaughter against anyone.
Those who commit the same offence a second time could face not less seven years in jail and a fine of 1 lakh rupees per cattle, upto Rs 10 lakh.
The ban includes slaughter of cows, calves, bulls, bullocks and he- and she-buffaloes that are younger than 13 years old. It exempts buffaloes over 13 years of age, diseased cattle and those operated upon for research.
The law further says all persons exercising powers under this Act shall be “deemed as public servants."
Even as the Bill was tabled in the House, some pro-ban groups brought cows in a vehicle into the premises of the Vidhan Souda and performed a ‘gau-pooja’ just outside the Assembly Hall.
The Opposition Congress said the Bill was introduced without prior notice, and without considering its impact on farmers who supplement their earnings through dairy farming but cannot afford to take care of aged cows.
“Can poor farmers take care of cows till their death? Even rich farmers cannot, in many cases. It is the farmers who will suffer with such laws. And they have brought in a law when there is already an election announced for the gram panchayat elections, it’s a clear violation of the model code," said opposition leader Siddaramaiah.
Thursday marks the last day of the Legislature session, the duration of which has been cut short by four days. The Bill will have to be passed in the Legislative Council before the sessions are adjourned sine die, for it to become notified as law.