Karnataka passes ‘most stringent’ anti-cow slaughter Bill

The amended Bill seeks a blanket ban on cow slaughter, and consumption, sale and transportation of beef in the state.

Bengaluru: Amid din in the Assembly, the Karnataka government on Wednesday passed the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2020, which is also known as the anti-cow slaughter Bill in the state.

Anger over the sudden introduction and passage of the Bill led to war of words between the Congress and BJP members. Terming it as unconstitutional, leader of the opposition Siddaramaiah said that his party will boycott the legislative session henceforth, while the JD(S) staged a walk out.

Though the Bill passed its first hurdle in the Assembly, it needs to sail through the legislative council before it is sent to the Governor’s office for final approval.

Going by the JD(S) stance in the Assembly, the passage of the Bill looks a little bleak as the combined opposition of Congress and JD(S) has an upper hand in the council. In the 75-member house, BJP has 31 members, Congress 28, JD(S) 14, besides one Chairman and one Independent member.

The amended Bill seeks a blanket ban on cow slaughter, and consumption, sale and transportation of beef in the state.

The most stringent provision of this Bill is awarding maximum imprisonment of up to seven years and minimum of three years to those found involved in slaughter or smuggling, illegal transportation and atrocities on cattle. Besides this, the Bill has also prescribed a fine amount which may extend from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh.

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The Bill also states that a competent authority will be constituted to monitor atrocities on cattle, receive complaints as well as to issue permits to transportation of cattle.

Apart from this, the Bill seeks to establish special sessions court in all the districts to deal with cattle atrocity cases and set up ‘Gaushalas’ (cow shelters) across the state.

Expressing “dissatisfaction” over the amended Bill, the ruling BJP members, including former minister Aravind Limbvali and former Speaker K.G. Bopaiah, demanded that the provisions of cow slaughter, transportation of cow or beef and beef products must be made a non-bailable offence. “Mere stating it as a cognizable offence is not enough as these offences must be termed as non-bailable offences,” they said.

Intervening at this juncture, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J.C. Madhuswamy asserted that the members’ demands will be met while framing the rules as all provisions cannot be part of the Act.

Piloting the amendment Bill in the Assembly, Minister for Haj, Waqf and Animal Husbandry, Prabhu Chauhan, said, “Cows not only have religious significance but also economic significance in our society and it is necessary to enhance penal action to deter those involved in slaughtering cows.”

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The moment the Bill was introduced, Congress MLAs led by Siddaramaiah and Janata Dal (S) legislators led by its state president H.K. Kumarswamy trooped into the well of the House in protest.

They alleged that the Bill was not discussed for tabling in the Business Advisory Committee meeting, but this charge was vehemently denied by Speaker Vishweshwara Hegde Kaageri.

Taking serious objections to the ruling BJP introducing the contentious Bill suddenly and seeking the passage of the Bill without it being mentioned in the agenda, Siddaramaiah termed it as anti-constitutional.

The Congress said that the Bill is aimed at fanning communal fears and will be misused for polarization on communal lines to target the minorities.

On the other hand, the ruling BJP members countered it by stating that this Bill is necessary to protect the cattle which are holy to the Hindus.

The moment Chauhan tabled the Bill, BJP chief whip V. Sunil Kumar distributed saffron scarves to all the BJP members, with jubilant BJP members raising slogans supporting the Bill.

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