Explained: What is Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021, its provisions, punishment and why the opposition is against it

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Updated: August 14, 2021 10:08 AM

Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021: The opposition Congress, AIUDF and CPI (M) had urged the government to refer the bill to an Assembly select committee for vetting.

Assam Cow Slaughter BillChief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stated that the bill had no bad intention and claimed it will strengthen communal harmony.

The Himanta Biswa Sarma-led Assam Assembly yesterday passed the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021 amid protest from opposition members. The bill is aimed at regulating slaughter, consumption and transportation of cattle. The demand that the bill be sent to a select committee was turned down by the government, leading to a walkout from the assembly by the opposition parties. The BJP members raised slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Jai Shree Ram’ as soon as Speaker Biswajit Daimary announced that The Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021 has been passed.

Notably, independent MLA Akhil Gogoi walked out of the House as soon as the bill was taken up for consideration. The opposition Congress, AIUDF and CPI (M) had urged the government to refer the bill to an Assembly select committee for vetting. AIUDF MLA Aminul Islam and Rafiqul Islam asserted that eating beef is not mandatory for followers of Islam and the bill must not be viewed along religious lines.

According to PTI, CPI(M)’s Manoranjan Talukdar claimed that the bill will affect people’s right to choose what they eat, especially in areas where beef-eating communities are in minority. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stated that the bill had no bad intention and claimed it will strengthen communal harmony. He said that the bill doesn’t intend to stop anyone from consuming beef, however, the person who eats must also respect the religious sentiments of others.

Provisions of the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021

The Cattle Preservation Bill seeks to ensure that permission for slaughtering cows is not granted in areas that are predominantly inhabited by Hindu, Jain, Sikh and other non-beef eating communities or places that fall within a five-kilometre radius of a temple, satra, and any other institution as may be prescribed by the authorities. However, exemptions might be granted for certain religious occasions.

The bill also seeks to put a check on the transportation of bovines without valid documents. All offences under this new legislation are cognizable and non-bailable. According to other provisions of the Bill, the slaughter of cattle will be prohibited unless a necessary certificate issued by the registered veterinary officer of a particular area has been obtained. The veterinary officer will issue a certificate only if he believes that the bovine, not being a cow, is over 14 years of age. A cow, heifer or calf may be slaughtered only if it is permanently incapacitated.

According to CM Sarma, the new bill contains almost similar provisions as the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950, except three new additions and the old act would stand repealed when the new legislation comes into force.

Key features:
* Slaughter of cow, calf and heifer is prohibited
* Transportation of cattle from or through Assam is prohibited
* Sale of beef or beef products is prohibited in areas predominantly inhabited by Hindu, Jains, Sikhs, and other non-beef eating communities
* Sale of beef or beef product is prohibited within 5-km radius of any temple, satra or other Hindu religious institutions

Punishment under the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021 for violation

Those found violating the rules shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than three years and up to eight years or a fine that may vary between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 5 lakh or both. If someone convicted is found guilty of the same or a related offence the second time, the punishment will be doubled.

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