No sale of beef within 5 km of temple area – The Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021
Table of contents
Objective of the bill
Salient features of the Bill
- Defines Cattle
- Prohibition of slaughter of cattle
- Obtaining certificate for slaughter
- Maintenance of all records
- Power to appeal
- Prohibition of slaughter of cattle in places other than a slaughter house
- Prohibition on transport of cattle
- Prohibition on sale of beef and beef products
- Provides for Animal Market Regulation
- Power to enter, inspect, search, seizure and detain
- Rule for double penalty
- Nature of offence
- Establishment of an institution including Gaushalas for taking care of cattle
The Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021 was passed in the state Assembly which prohibits the sale and purchase of beef in areas inhabited by non-beef-eating communities and within a radius of 5 km of a temple or a satra (Vaishnavite monastery). This bill aims to provide for the preservation of cattle by regulating their slaughter, consumption and illegal transportation. The Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma tabled the bill in the Assembly which proposes to repeal the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 and refers to Article 48 of the Constitution. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma twitted, “Extremely happy and proud to fulfil our poll promise with the passing of historic Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 2021. I’m sure this will deal a heavy blow to the illegal cattle trade & transit through Assam, ensuring due care of cattle as practised in our tradition for ages.”
Many such incidents have happened where beef has been found in temples. That is why it is now proposed that it be eaten 5 km away from the temple. This bill, in no way restricting the right to eat, has been proposed to increase harmony between Hindus and Muslims. The onus of maintaining communal harmony should not be just on the Hindus. Muslims must also reciprocate and take into account Hindu sensitivities.
Objective of the bill
The Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 lacked to address the issues such as slaughter, consumption and transportation of cattle. Therefore, In pursuance to Article 48 of the Constitution of India which enshrines one of the Directive Principles of State Policy lays down that the State shall endeavor to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.
Henceforth, to regulate the slaughter, consumption and transportation of cattle by repealing The Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 this bill has been proposed.
Salient features of the Bill
- Defines Cattle– Under this act “Cattle” includes Bulls, Bullocks, Cows, Heifer, Calves, Male and female buffaloes, Buffalo calves.
- Prohibition of slaughter of cattle– No person shall slaughter or cause to be slaughtered, or offer or cause to be offered for slaughter of any cattle with an exception that if any cattle are killed by accident it shall not be considered as slaughter.
- Obtaining certificate for slaughter– If any person wants to slaughter cattle then he must take certificate in writing, issued by the registered Veterinary Officer under Animal and Husbandry Department for the area in which the cattle is to be slaughtered.
- Maintenance of all records– The Veterinary Officer shall maintain all records of issuance or refusal of such certificate for future reference and inspection by the prescribed authority.
- Power to appeal– If any person is aggrieved by the refusal to grant certificate for slaughter by the Veterinary Officer he may, within fifteen days from the date of communication to him of such refusal order, may appeal to the prescribed authority against the order of refusal.
- Prohibition of slaughter of cattle in places other than a slaughter house – No cattle shall be slaughtered in any place other than a slaughter house duly licensed or recognized under a Central or State Act or any rules or regulations with only exception that the State Government may exempt certain places of worship or certain occasions for slaughter of cattle other than calf, heifer and cow for religious purposes.
- Prohibition on transport of cattle– No person shall transport or offer for transport or cause to be transported any cattle, without valid permit, from, any place of other state through Assam to any place outside state of Assamor any place within the state of Assam to any place outside the state of Assam where slaughter of cattle is not regulated by law.
- Prohibition on sale of beef and beef products– No person shall directly or indirectly sell or offer or expose for sale or buy beef or beef products in any form except at places permitted to do so by the competent authority. With a condition that no such permission shall be granted in such area or areas which are predominantly inhabited by Hindu, Jain, Sikh and other non-beef eating communities or within a radius of 5 kms of any temple, satra, or other religious institutions belonging to Hindu Religion or any other institution or area as may be prescribed by the competent authority.
- Provides for Animal Market Regulation– Every Animal Market Committee of recognized animal markets shall issue proof of sale and purchase of animals in the prescribed format to the purchaser and maintain proper record for inspection by the competent authority.
- Power to enter, inspect, search, seizure and detain– A Police Officer not below the rank of Sub-inspector or a registered Veterinary Officer, or any person authorized in this behalf by the state government, shall have the power to enter and inspect any premises within the local limits of jurisdiction of such persons where he has reason to believe that an offence under this Act has been or is likely to be committed.
- Penalties – Whoever contravenes any of the provisions contained in this Act under sections 5, 6, and 7 shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years and which may extend to eight years and with fine which shall not be less than three Lakh rupees and may extend to five Lakh rupees or with both.
- Rule for double penalty– Whoever after conviction of an offence under this Act is again found to be guilty of an offence under this Act, shall be punished with double the punishment provided for the said offence for the second and subsequent conviction.
- Nature of offence– Any offence committed under this act is cognizable and non-bailable.
- Establishment of an institution including Gaushalas for taking care of cattle– The State Government may establish, or direct any local authority to establish an institution including Gaushalas at such places as may be deemed necessary for taking care of the cattle to be housed.
- Repealing– On the commencement of the The Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021, the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 shall be repealed.
This act exempts certain conditions such as:
- Any cattle operated upon for vaccine lymph, serum or for any experimental or research purpose.
- Any cattle slaughter of which is certified by a Veterinary Officer
- Slaughter of a cattle which is suffering from any disease which is certified by a Veterinary Officer as being incurable or infectious or contagious and dangerous to other cattle
- Slaughter of cattle, not being a cow or heifer or calf, on such religious occasion
- Slaughtering of cattle, other than cow, heifer or calf and supply of flesh thereof to the state zoo or other authorized similar set up, for the purpose of feeding the animals
Keeping in mind the shortcomings of the previous act, this bill has been enacted to deal with the imperative need of legal provisions dealing with slaughter, consumption and transportation of cattle. This bill has been criticised by All India United Democratic Front by stating that the government will destroy the economy of Assam by introducing this bill. This bill has expressly prohibited the sale of beef and beef products within a radius of 5 kms of any temple, satra, or other religious institutions belonging to Hindu Religion or any other institution or area as may be prescribed by the competent authority.