The Karnataka Assembly on Wednesday, 9 December, passed the draconian Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2020, spelling the death knell for lakhs of families dependent on the trade for their livelihood.
The Bill proposes to bring a blanket ban on the slaughter of all cattle, widening the Hindutva agenda.
Under the Bill, ‘cattle’ is defined as cow, calf of a cow and bull, bullock and male/female buffalo below the age of thirteen years. Slaughter of cattle will be a cognisable offence and will attract three to seven years of imprisonment and a fine that shall not be less than Rs 50,000, extendable up to Rs 5 lakh.
A second and subsequent offence will attract a “fine not less than Rs 1 lakh but which may extend to Rs 10 lakh along with imprisonment which may extend to seven years,” the Bill said.
A police officer of sub-inspector or higher rank, or a competent authority has the power of search and seizure, if they have “reason to believe that an offence under this Act has been committed”. After the seizure, the officer shall report it “without unreasonable delay before the Sub-Divisional Magistrate for confiscation.” The Bill also recommended constituting special courts for the purpose of speedy disposal of disputes under this Act.
Bill already exists
Currently, the sale and purchase of cattle in Karnataka are carried out in accordance with the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964. This law permits the slaughter of non-milch cows and diseased cattle over 12 years of age.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah had earlier said that the Bill was introduced without any discussion. “Today, to our surprise, the minister for animal husbandry read a statement that he is introducing prevention of animal slaughter and protection bill. This was not discussed at all. It was a surprise for all of us,” he said.
He further added that a copy of the Bill was not distributed to the members of the House. “Whenever a Bill is introduced, the copies of the bill should be circulated to all the members. But even the minister (for animal husbandry) did not have a copy of the Bill with him,” he said.
Siddaramaiah further added that the government’s move was a breach of privilege. “The sanctity of the House has gone, the sanctity of the office of the Speaker is gone. The government is disrespectful to the office of BAC (business advisory committee). We are seriously considering if we should attend BAC or not,” he added.
The demonstration by Congress members led to sloganeering from both ruling and opposition camps, with BJP legislators accusing Congress of being a pro-cow slaughter party. BJP members, true to their Hindutva agenda were seen wearing a saffron shawl.