Some ban, some restrict, a few donít
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GUJARAT: The Gujarat Animal Preservation Act, 2011, introduced by the BJP government during Diwali, bans the slaughter of cows (and their progeny) as well as the sale, purchase or transportation of beef. The maximum imprisonment is, as in the new MP law, of seven years.
Karnataka: A 1964 law allowed slaughter of cattle under certain conditions. Now, the BJP government has framed a much stricter law not only banning slaughter but also allowing search and seizure. The Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2010, passed by the legislature, opposed by the Congress and JDS, and yet to receive the Governor's assent, proposes imprisonment up to seven years and fines up to Rs 1 lakh. The Bill includes a search-and-seizure clause empowering police officers of the rank of sub-inspector or above, and accords immunity to authorities implementing the law.
Uttar Pradesh: The UP Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act prescribes imprisonment up to seven years, as per an amendment in effect since 2002, a police officer says. Consumption of canned beef is allowed but sale or transportation of cattle for the purpose of slaughtering will invite prosecution. The officer says someone caught slaughtering frequently can face charges under the Gangster Act and the National Security Act.
Himachal pradesh: The ban on cow slaughter here was imposed as way back as in 1979. The Himachal Pradesh Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act prescribes imprisonment of five years. The Act covers not only cows but also bulls, bullocks, oxen, heifers and calves. Even a person who withholds information about slaughter can be punished with a year in jail. Sale of beef is banned, unless one obtains a licence under the Act. Offences are non-bailable.
Tamil Nadu: A ban on slaughter of cows and heifers is in place since 1976, though not stringently implemented. Consumption of beef is not banned but it is something that divides communities. Beef is available at meat shops, but beef dishes are not served by any major restaurants barring a few.
Punjab & haryana: Both neighbours ban cow slaughter, with Haryana implementing the Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, which has provisions for imprisonment. Punjab too makes it a criminal offence under various sections of the IPC. It bans the sale of beef though there is no provision for a penalty for its consumption. Neither state has ever had a complaint or case registered for sale of beef.
Bihar: The ban on cow slaughter is guided by a Central law, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. It is a cognisable offence and bailable. The Society for Prevention of Cruelty against Animals, which has a unit in every district, becomes the complainant if a cow is slaughtered. Slaughtering a diseased cow is allowed under the law. It is legal to serve beef in restaurants but few actualy do so.
Jharkhand: The Jharkhand Prevention of Cowbreed Animal Slaughter Act, 2005, sets an age limit, with slaughter banned if the animal is less than three years old. There is no ban on consumption of beef. Approved during an earlier tenure of Arjun Munda, the law was notified during that of Shibu Soren. Imprisonment for illegal slaughter can go up to 10 years; causing an injury to such animals, too, is punishable with a fine up to Rs 10,000.
Maharashtra: The Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976, makes a distinction between animals: it bans the slaughter of cows but allows that of bulls, bullocks, female buffaloes and buffalo calves if a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate is obtained from the comptetent authority. Cow slaughter is punishable by up to six months imprisonment. A bill that aimed to ban slaughter of bulls, too, had been passed by both houses of the legislature in 1995 during the Shiv Sena-BJP government's tenure. That bill is still pending with the President, while the currently ruling Congress-NCP alliance is doing a rethink about it.
West Bengal: The West Bengal Animal Slaughter Control Act, 1950, bans slaughter of healthy cows, with a violation carrying a maximum imprisonment of six months. There is no ban on consumption of beef, or on the slaughter (in a government or municipality slaughterhouse) of an animal certified as fit for this by a veterinary surgeon. The Act exempts slaughter for religious purposes, but the Supreme Court has said such exemptions too would be illegal.
Orissa: The Orissa Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1960, makes slaughter a cognisable offence with a maximum imprisonment of two years or fine up to Rs 1,000 or both. "Cow" includes heifers and calves, while slaughter of bulls and bullocks allowed once given a fit-for-slaughter certificate, or if cattle is over 14 years of age or has become permanently unfit for breeding. Consumption and serving of beef in hotels and homes is allowed.
The northeast: The Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1951 (amended in 1963), exists but no rules seem to have been framed to regulate or restrict cattle slaughter, which takes place in various parts of the state. Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland, with a predominant Christian population, have no restriction on cattle slaughter and beef is openly sold in cities like Shillong, Dimapur and Aizawl. Arunachal Pradesh has no legislation on cow slaughter, and communities consume the meat of yak and mithun. Tripura has no legislation either. In Manipur, cattle slaughter is restricted under the Proclamation of Maharaja's Durbar Rules of 1939, but beef is largely consumed in the hill districts with large Christian populations.
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