K’taka govt defends anti-cattle slaughter Act in HC
Bengaluru: Chief minister BS Yediyurappa-led government on Wednesday defended the contentious anti-cattle slaughter Act, which has been challenged through multiple petitions, in the Karnataka high court. The Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Act, 2020, came into effect in February this year after the bill regarding the legislation was passed in the legislative council.
Highlighting the government’s stance on the Act in the high court, the chief minister’s office (CMO) in a statement on Wednesday said, “Bulls and bullocks are useful not only for dairy farming but also for draught agricultural purposes and breeding. In addition to these activities, working bullocks are indispensable as they supply an impressive amount of power in comparison to any other animal.”
There are at least nine petitions pending before courts challenging the Act, according to one person aware of the developments.
The new legislation expands the scope of an existing law to protect cattle from slaughter and is part of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s larger “plans to introduce laws in line with its core-ideology”, a BJP legislator said on the condition of anonymity.
When the Bill was presented in the state legislature, the Congress had protested it and even torn its copies. The Yediyurappa government had earlier promulgated the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Ordinance, which widened the existing provisions for punishment on killing of cattle.
The Act also has a provision to safeguard those “acting in good faith”, which activists fear would give rise to vigilantism.
The new law penalises those slaughtering cattle below 13 years of age with a jail term of three to five years and/or fines ranging from ₹50,000 to ₹10 lakh, or both.
The CMO said that even the cattle that are too old to work help in production of manure and biogas and so they cannot be called “economically unproductive”.
“Considering their immense contribution, it was felt necessary to preserve and protect cow progeny, including bulls and bullocks,” it added.
The state government also argued that the cattle population has dropped drastically in the last eight years. According to the 19th livestock census in 2012, there were 9,516,484 cattle in the state, which came down to 8,469,004 in 2019 (20th livestock census).
“The population of indigenous cattle is 1,254,206 (Hallikar and Amritmahal) and both male and female are used for drought purposes. The state government has submitted that these are few of the reasons for which the enactment in question was passed,” the CMO said in its statement.
A division bench of Karnataka high court, headed by its chief justice, is expected to give a date on Monday for the final hearing in the case, according to a person aware of the developments.