The Gujarat assembly on Friday made its anti-cow slaughter law the toughest in the country with the offence now becoming non-bailable and punishable with a life-time in jail.

The Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 2017, was passed with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s brute majority and the opposition Congress remaining suspended from the house for the entire day on the last day of the Budget session.  Moving an amendment, Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja said: “During this auspicious occasion of Chaitri Navratri, the government, on suggestions of many sadhus and sants, has made amendments to the Gujarat Animal Protection (Amendment) Act, 2011. This is the harshest law in the country.”

The new law provides for maximum punishment of up to life imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs five lakh and would encompass slaughter of cows, calves, bulls and bullocks. The bill also bans transportation of animals from one place to another in night. The bill also proposes imprisonment up to 10 years, but not less then seven years, for those found to be involved in transportation, sale and storage of beef. Earlier, the maximum punishment for the same was three years.

Introducing the bill, Jadeja said, “Cows not just have religious significance, they also have an economic significance in our society. It is utmost necessary to increase the punishment to deter those
involved in slaughtering of cows.”

Life imprisonment for cow slaughter makes Gujarat the state with harshest laws on beef ban

Representational image. Reuters

According to a report in The Hindu, the Bill in its original form only proposed a maximum punishment of 10 years, but not less than seven years for cow slaughter. However, junior home minister Pradipsinh Jadeja sought an amendment to enhance the punishment to life term, which was passed and adopted in the Bill.

With this Act, cow slaughter became a non-bailable offence in the state. Hitherto, if a person was found in possession of beef, he could face a jail-term ranging from seven to 10 years.

Another notable provision in the newly passed law gives the state government the power to confiscate the vehicle being used to illegally transport cows for slaughtering. The government move comes on the heels of the Assembly election in the state, likely to be held in November this year, and in which the ruling BJP has set a target to win more than 150 seats, a report in Hindustan Times states.

The minister said that the state government would “strictly” implement the new law. “Earlier it was a bailable offence and legal provisions were relatively mild. This did not act as an efficient deterrent for those committing this heinous crime,” he added.

Explaining the rationale for a tougher law, Jadeja said several religious saints and leading citizens had in the past petitioned the Chief Minister for making a stricter law for cow protection.

The state government has also put curbs on transportation of cows in the state during night hours. Even the legal, licensed movement of cattle would not be allowed between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The state had imposed a blanket ban on cow slaughter and ferrying of beef in the state in 2011, under the then chief minister Narendra Modi. The earlier version of the law included a penalty of  Rs 50,000 and imprisonment of up to seven years.

The state had also earned notoriety for failing to curb vigilantism in the name of cow protection, when four Dalit youths were stripped and flogged by upper-caste Hindu men in Una for allegedly skinning a dead cow.

With inputs from IANS

This story first appeared in FIRSTPOST.COM on MARCH 31, 2017 here.