Cattle slaughter in India

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In Hinduism, the cow is a symbol of wealth, strength, abundance, selfless giving and full of earthly life.

Cattle slaughter in India is a historically taboo subject[1][2] because of the cow's traditional status as a sacred animal in Hinduism, the largest religion in the country. Dairy products are extensively used in Hindu culture and are one of the most essential nutritional components of Hindu meals. No state law explicitly bans the consumption of beef.

The laws governing cattle slaughter vary greatly from State to State. The "Preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal diseases, veterinary training and practice" is Entry 15 of the State List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, meaning that State legislatures have exclusive powers to legislate the prevention of slaughter and preservation of cattle. Some States allow the slaughter of cattle with restrictions like a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate which may be issued depending on factors like age and gender of cattle, continued economic viability etc. Others completely ban cattle slaughter, while there is no restriction in a few states. Prohibition of cow slaughter is a Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Article 48 of the Constitution. It reads, "The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle."

Cows are routinely shipped to states with lower or no requirement for slaughter, even though it is illegal in most states to ship animals across State borders to be slaughtered.[3][4] Many illegal slaughterhouses operate in large cities such as Chennai and Mumbai. As of 2004, there were 3,600 legal and 30,000 illegal slaughterhouses in India.[5] Efforts to close them down have, so far, been largely unsuccessful. In 2013, Andhra Pradesh estimated that there were 3,100 illegal and 6 licensed slaughterhouses in the State.[6]

India produced 3.643 million metric tons of beef in 2012, of which 1.963 million metric tons was consumed domestically and 1.680 million metric tons was exported. India ranks 5th in the world in beef production, 7th in domestic consumption and 1st in exporting.[7] Most of the exported beef is buffalo meat.[6]

History[edit]

For a discussion on religious views towards cattle, see Cattle in religion.

Ancient India[edit]

Bull seal from Indus Valley Civilization.
2nd Century A.D sculpture of Nandi bull.
Bull bas relief in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
First sovereign Prithu chasing earth-goddess Prithvi, who is in the form of a cow. According to the Puranas, ancient Hindu texts eulogizing various deities, Prithu milked the cow to generate crops for humans.

The cow has been a symbol of wealth in India since ancient times. However, they were neither inviolable nor revered in the same way today.[8][9] The cow was possibly revered because Hindus relied heavily on it for dairy products and for tilling the fields, and on cow dung as a source of fuel and fertilizer. Thus, the cow’s status as a "caretaker" led to identifying it as an almost maternal figure (hence the term gau mata (mother cow)). In the olden days cattle being limited to select few fortunate folks, the cows enjoyed the status that gold or money enjoys today. In addition, it has been suggested by author and orator Terence McKenna that religious reverence for the cow is a result of early humankind's association of psilocybin mushroom with it, this association having developed as a result of the discovery of said mushrooms in the animal's excrement.[10] Panchagavya, a mixture of five products of cow milk, curd, ghee, urine and dung,[11] is used in Brahmanical rituals. The mixture is also smeared on ulcers as a healing product.[12]

Hinduism is based on the concept of omnipresence of the Divine, and the presence of a soul in all creations including bovine. God Krishna, one of the incarnations (Avatar), tended cows. The cow and bull represent the symbol of Dharma.[13]

According to legend, Chola King Manu Needhi Cholan killed his own son to provide justice to a cow. The king hung a giant bell in front of his courtroom for anyone needing justice to ring. One day, he came out on hearing the ringing of the bell by a cow. Upon inquiry he found that the calf of that cow was killed under the wheels of his son's chariot. In order to provide justice to the cow, he killed his own son Veedhividangan in the same manner that the calf had been killed.[14]

Medieval India[edit]

Cow slaughter became prominent in India in the medieval age around 1000 AD, when India was invaded by various Islamic rulers from Turkey, Persia, Arabia and Afghanistan. According to Islamic traditions in Arab countries, goats and sheep were killed as a sacrifice. On special occasions they would sacrifice camels. Islamic rulers, from Central and West Asia were not habituated to eating beef, as there were no cows in Arab countries. After Islamic rulers arrived in India, they began sacrificing cows, particularly on the occasion of Bakri-Id.[15] Ralph Fitch, a gentleman merchant of London and one of the earliest English travellers to India wrote a letter home in 1580 stating, "They have a very strange order among them - they worship a cow and esteem much of the cow's dung to paint the walls of their houses ... They eat no flesh, but live by roots and rice and milk."[16]

In 1756–57, in what was his fourth invasion of India, the founder of the Durrani Empire, Ahmad Shāh Durrānī sacked Delhi and plundered Agra, Mathura, and Vrndavana.[17] On his way back to Afghanistan, he attacked the Golden Temple in Amritsar and filled its sacred pool with the blood of slaughtered cows.[18] This final act was to be the start of long lasting bitterness between Sikhs and Afghans.[19] Hyder Ali, sultan and de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore from 1761 to 1782, made cow slaughter an offence punishable with the cutting of the hands of the offenders.[20]

Mughal Empire[edit]

The Mughal emperor Babur ruled in 1526 that killing cows was forbidden.[21] In his Wasiyyat namd-i-majchfi (Persian: secret testament‎) to his son and successor, Humayun, dated First Jamadi-ul-Awwal 935 Hijri (11 January 1529), Babur wrote, "The realm of Hindustan is full of diverse creeds. Praise be to God, the Righteous, the Glorious, the Highest, that He hath granted unto thee the Empire 'of it. It is but proper that thou, with heart cleansed of all religious bigotry, should dispense justice according to the tenets of each community. And in particular refrain from the sacrifice of cow, for that way lies the conquest of the hearts of the people of Hindustan; and the subjects of the realm will, through royal favour, be devoted to thee".[22][23] Later Mughal emperors Akbar (reign: 1556 – 1605), Jahangir (1605 – 1627), and Ahmad Shah (1748 – 1754), it is said, imposed selective restricted bans on cow slaughter.[24][25]

Cow slaughter was not prohibited during the reign of Aurangzeb. In 1645, soon after being appointed Governor of Gujarat, Aurangzeb converted the Chintamani Parshvanath Jain temple near Sarashpur, Gujarat into a mosque, and ordered that a cow be slaughtered in the shrine.[26][27] The building was later restored to the Hindus, by order of Aurangzeb's father, then emperor Shah Jahan.[28] Aurangzeb wished to convert India into a Muslim country, and forced conversions occurred in some areas.[29][30] In present-day Punjab, India, a delegation to the 9th Sikh guru Guru Tegh Bahadur told him that " ... Cows are everywhere being slaughtered. If any cow or buffalo belonging to a Hindu is mortally ill the qazi comes and kills it on the spot. ... If we fail to inform the qazi when a beast is dying he punishes us ... "[31]

The last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar banned cow slaughter in 1857 in the territories he nominally controlled, a couple of months before being deposed and deported to Burma by the British.[32][33]

British Raj[edit]

With the advent of British rule in India, a new situation was created with the arrival of the Europeans, who were habituated to eating beef. Beef was a popular food for the British living in India.[34] The first slaughterhouse in India was built in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1760 by Robert Clive,[35] then Governor of Bengal. It could kill 30,000 animals per day.[33] Several more slaughterhouses were set up in various parts of the country by the Commissariat Wing of the three British armies of Bengal, Madras and Bombay Presidencies.[36] 350 slaughterhouses were constructed by 1910.[33]

The reverence for the cow played a role in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British East India Company. Hindu and Muslim sepoys in the army of the East India Company came to believe that their paper cartridges, which held a measured amount of gunpowder, were greased with cow and pig fat. The consumption of swine is forbidden in Islam. Since loading the gun required biting off the end of the paper cartridge, they concluded that the British were forcing them to break edicts of their religion.[37]

Strangely enough, cricket which is arguably the most popular sport in India does use cow skin leather in making the cricket ball. Though the PETA has written to ICC about it,[38] little has been done to introduce non-leather balls in the sport.

A gaushala in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.

Historians argue that the symbol of the cow was used as a means of mobilizing Hindus.[39] In 1870, the Namdhari Sikhs started a cow protection revolution, which is known as the Kuka Revolution, in which they revolted against the British seeking protection of the cow. A few years later, Swami Dayananda Saraswati called for the stoppage of cow slaughter by the British and suggested the formation of Go-samvardhani Sabhas.[40] In the 1870s, cow protection movements spread rapidly in Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province, Oudh (now Awadh) and Rohilkhand. The Arya Samaj had a tremendous role in skillfully converting this sentiment into a national movement.[39] The first Gaurakshini sabha (cow protection society) was established in the Punjab in 1882.[41] The movement spread rapidly all over North India and to Bengal, Bombay, Madras presidencies and other central provinces. The organization rescued wandering cows and reclaimed them to groom them in places called gaushalas (cow refuges). Charitable networks developed all through North India to collect rice from individuals, pool the contributions, and re-sell them to fund the gaushalas. Signatures, up to 350,000 in some places, were collected to demand a ban on cow sacrifice.[42] Between 1880 and 1893, hundreds of gaushalas were opened.[40]

A pamphlet protesting against the Muslim practice of beef-eating. The demon Kali (far right) attempts to slaughter the sacred cow, represented by "the mother of cows" Kamadhenu in whose body all deities are believed to reside. The colour version ran by the Ravi Varma Press (c. 1912).

Cow protection sentiment reached its peak in 1893. Large public meetings were held in Nagpur, Hardwar and Benares to denounce beef-eaters. Melodramas were conducted to display the plight of cows, and pamphlets were distributed, to create awareness among those who sacrificed and ate them. Riots broke out between Hindus and Muslims in Mau in the Azamgarh district; it took 3 days for the government to regain control. The rioting was precipitated by contradictory interpretations of a British local magistrate's order. He had apparently asked all the Muslims interested in cow slaughter to register, which undertaking was in fact performed to identify problem-prone areas. However, Muslims had interpreted this as a promise of protection for those who wanted to perform sacrifices.[43] The series of violent incidences also resulted in a riot in Bombay involving the working classes, and unrest occurred in places as far away as Rangoon, Burma. An estimated thirty-one to forty-five communal riots broke out over six months and a total of 107 people were killed.[42][44] Queen Victoria mentioned the cow protection movement in a letter, dated 8 December 1893, to then Viceroy Lansdowne, writing, "The Queen greatly admired the Viceroy's speech on the Cow-killing agitation. While she quite agrees in the necessity of perfect fairness, she thinks the Muhammadans do require more protection than Hindus, and they are decidedly by far the more loyal. Though the Muhammadan's cow-killing is made the pretext for the agitation, it is, in fact, directed against us, who kill far more cows for our army, &c., than the Muhammadans."[40]

Some prominent leaders of the independence movement such as Mahatma Gandhi, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Madan Mohan Malviya, Rajendra Prasad and Purushottam Das Tondon, in order to mobilize the public to participate actively in the freedom movement, assured them repeatedly that on achieving the goal of Swaraj, the first action of the Swadeshi Government would be to ban slaughter of cow and its progeny by law.[45] Mahatma Gandhi, stated in a speech given in Muzaffarpur in 1917, that 30,000 cows were slaughtered daily (1 crore 10 lakhs annually) by the British.[36] In December 1927 he stated, "As for me, not even to win Swaraj, will I renounce my principle of cow protection."[45] The cow was venerated by Gandhi.[46] He said: "I worship it and I shall defend its worship against the whole world," and that, "The central fact of Hinduism is cow protection."[46] He regarded her better than the earthly mother, and called her "the mother to millions of Indian mankind." Gandhi said, "Our mother, when she dies, means expenses of burial or cremation. Mother cow is as useful dead as when she is alive. We can make use of every part of her body – her flesh, her bones, her intestines, her horns and her skin."[46]

In 1940, one of the Special Committees of the Indian National Congress opined that slaughter of cow and its progeny must be totally prohibited. However, another Committee of the Congress opposed cow slaughter prohibition stating that that the skin and leather of cow and its progeny, which is fresh by slaughter should be sold and exported to earn foreign exchange. In 1944, the British placed restrictions on cattle slaughter in India, on the grounds that the shortage of cattle was causing anxiety to the Government. The shortage itself was attributed to the increased demand for cattle for cultivation, transport, milk and other purposed. It was decided that, in respect of slaughter by the army authorities, working cattle, as well as, cattle fit for bearing offspring, should not be slaughtered. Accordingly, the slaughter of all cattle below 3 years of age, male cattle between 3 and 10 years, female cattle between 3 and 10 years of age, which are capable of producing milk, as well as all cows which are pregnant or in milk, was prohibited.[45]

There was a large increase in the number of cattle slaughtered in the years preceding Independence, according to statistics given by Pandit Thakur Dass, during the debate in the Constituent Assembly on 24 November 1948. The number of oxen killed in 1944 was 60,91,828, while in 1945, sixty five lakhs were slaughtered, an increase of more than 4 lakhs. He further stated that the population of oxen in the country decreased by 37 lakhs in 5 years from 1940 to 1945.[45] However, the figures are much lower according to the Dater Singh Committee Report which states that 27,91,828 and 31,67,496 oxen were slaughtered in 1944 and 1945 respectively.[47]

During the British Raj, there were several cases of communal riots caused by the slaughter of cows. A historical survey of some major communal riots, between 1717 and 1977, revealed that out of 167 incidents of rioting between Hindus and Muslims, that although in some cases the reasons for provocation of the riots was not given, 22 cases were attributable directly to cow slaughter.[48][49]

Post-Independence[edit]

The Central Government, in a letter dated 20 December 1950, directed the State Governments not to introduce total prohibition on cow-slaughter, stating, "Hides from slaughtered cattle are much superior to hides from the fallen cattle and fetch a higher price. In the absence of slaughter the best type of hide, which fetches good price in the export market will no longer be available. A total ban on slaughter is thus detrimental to the export trade and work against the interest of the Tanning industry in the country." In 1966, Indian independence activist Jayaprakash Narayan wrote a letter to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi calling for a ban on cow slaughter. Narayan wrote, "For myself, I cannot understand why, in a Hindu majority country like India, where rightly or wrongly, there is such a strong feeling about cow-slaughter, there cannot be a legal ban".[50]

In July 1995, the Government of India stated before the Supreme Court that, "It is obvious that the Central Government as a whole is encouraging scientific and sustainable development of livestock resources and their efficient utilization which inter-alia includes production of quality meat for export as well as for domestic market. This is being done with a view of increasing the national wealth as well as better returns to the farmer." In recent decades, the Government has started releasing grants and loans for setting up of modern slaughter houses.[50]

Legislation[edit]

The "Preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal diseases, veterinary training and practice" is Entry 15 of the State List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, meaning that State Legislatures have exclusive powers to legislate the prevention of slaughter and preservation of cattle.[51][52] The prohibition of cow slaughter is also one of the Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Article 48 of the Constitution. It reads, "The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle."[53] Several State Governments and Union Territories (UTs) have enacted cattle preservation laws in one form or the other. Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Lakshadweep have no legislation. All other states/UTs have enacted legislation to prevent the slaughter of cow and its progeny.[54] Kerala is a major consumer of beef and has no regulation on the slaughter of cow and its progeny. As a result, cattle is regularly smuggled into Kerala from the neighbouring States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, for the purpose of slaughter.[54]

In several cases, such as Mohd. Hanif Qureshi v. State of Bihar (AIR 1959 SCR 629), Hashumatullah v. State of Madhya Pradesh, Abdul Hakim and others v. State of Bihar (AIR 1961 SC 448) and Mohd. Faruk v. State of Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court has held that, "A total ban [on cattle slaughter] was not permissible if, under economic conditions, keeping useless bull or bullock be a burden on the society and therefore not in the public interest."[15]

Uniformity[edit]

No state law explicitly bans the consumption of beef. There is a lack of uniformity among State laws governing cattle slaughter. The strictest laws are in Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, where the slaughter of cow and its progeny, including bulls and bullocks of all ages, is completely banned. Most States prohibit the slaughter of cows of all ages. However, Assam, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal permit the slaughter of cows of over the ages of 14, 10 and 14 years, respectively. Most States prohibit the slaughter of calves, whether male or female. With the exception of Bihar and Rajasthan, where age of a calf is given as below 3 years, the other States have not defined the age of a calf. According to the National Commission on Cattle, the definition of a calf being followed in Maharashtra, by some executive instructions, was "below the age of 1 year".[55][56]

In Delhi, Goa, Puducherry, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh violation of State laws on cattle slaughter are both cognizable and non-bailable offences. Most of other States specify that offences would be cognizable only. The maximum term of imprisonment varies from 6 months to 5 years and the fine from INR1,000 to INR10,000. Delhi and Madhya Pradesh have fixed a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment at 6 months.

Legislative history[edit]

Constituent Assembly[edit]

After India attained Independence, the members of the Constituent Assembly, a body consisting of indirectly elected representatives set up for the purpose of drafting a constitution for India, debated the question of making a provision for the protection and preservation of the cow in the Constitution of India. An amendment for including a provision in the Directive Principles of State Policy as Article 38A was introduced by Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava. The amendment read, "The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall in particular take steps for preserving and improving the breeds of cattle and prohibit the slaughter of cow and other useful cattle, specially milch and draught cattle and their young stock". Another amendment motion was moved by Seth Govind Das, who sought to extend the scope of the provisions for prohibiting slaughter to cover cow and its progeny by adding the following words at the end of Bhargava’s amendment, "'The word "cow' includes bulls, bullocks, young stock of genus cow". Bhargava's amendment was passed by the Constituent Assembly, but Das' was rejected. Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava (East Punjab), Seth Govind Das (Central Provinces and Berar), Shibban Lal Saksena (United Provinces), Ram Sahai (United State of Gwalior-Indore-Malwa:MadhyaBharat), Raghu Vira (Central Provinces and Berar) and Raghunath Vinayak Dhulekar (United Provinces) strongly pleaded for the inclusion of a provision in the Constitution for prohibiting the slaughter of cows. Although some members were keen on including the provision in the chapter on Fundamental Rights but, later as a compromise and on the basis of an assurance given by B. R. Ambedkar, the amendment was moved for inclusion as a Directive Principle of State Policy.[57]

Bhargava stated that "While moving this amendment, I have no hesitation in stating that for people like me and those that do not agree with the point of view of Dr. Ambedkar and others, this entails, in a way, a sort of sacrifice. Seth Govind Das had sent one such amendment to be included in the Fundamental Rights and other members also had sent similar amendments. To my mind, it would have been much better if this could have been incorporated in the Fundamental Rights, but some of my Assembly friends differed and it is the desire of Dr. Ambedkar that this matter, instead of being included in Fundamental Rights should be incorporated in the Directive Principles. As a matter of fact, it is the agreed opinion of the Assembly that this problem should be solved in such a manner that the objective is gained without using any sort of coercion. I have purposely adopted this course, as to my mind, the amendment fulfills our object and is midway between the Directive Principles and the Fundamental Rights.“ Bhargava also observed that “I do not want that, due to its inclusion in the Fundamental Rights, non-Hindus should complain that they have been forced to accept a certain thing against their will." The end result of the debate in the Constituent Assembly was that the Bhargava's amendment was carried and the Article in its present form exists as Article 48 of the Constitution, as one of the Directive Principles of State Policy.[57]

Parliament[edit]

A number of Private Member’s Bills and Resolutions regarding the prevention of cow slaughter have been introduced in both Houses of Parliament, from time to time. However, none have been successful in obtaining a complete nation-wide ban on cow slaughter. Attempts to address the issue through a central legislation or otherwise are described below.[58]

Vinoba Bhave went on an indefinite fast from 22 April 1979 demanding that the Governments of West Bengal and Kerala agree to enact legislation banning cow slaughter. On 12 April 1979, a Private Members Resolution was passed in the Lok Sabha, by 42 votes to 8, with 12 absentees. It read, "This House directs the Government to ensure total ban on the slaughter of cows of all ages and calves in consonance with the Directive Principles laid down in Article 48 of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court, as well as necessitated by strong economic considerations based on the recommendations of the Cattle Preservation and Development Committee and the reported fast by Acharya Vinoba Bhave from 21st April, 1979”. Then Prime Minister Morarji Desai later announced in Parliament that the government would initiate action for amending the Constitution with a view to conferring legislative competence on the Union Parliament for legislating on the subject of cow protection. Accordingly, a Constitution Amendment Bill seeking to bring the subject of prevention of cow slaughter on to the Concurrent List was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 18 May 1979. The Bill, however, lapsed on account of dissolution of the Sixth Lok Sabha. Bhave reiterated his demand for a total ban on cow slaughter in July 1980, while addressing the All India Goseva Sammelan. He also requested that cows should not be taken from one State to another.[59]

In 1981, the question of amending the Constitution by introducing a Bill was again examined by the Government, but, in view of the sensitive nature of the issue and owing to political compulsions a "wait and watch" policy was adopted. However, as a number of complaints were received from time to time that despite the ban on the slaughter of cow and its progeny, healthy bullocks were being slaughtered under one pretext or the other and calves were being maimed, so that they could be declared useless and ultimately slaughtered, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in her letter dated 24 February 1982 wrote to the Chief Ministers of 14 States viz. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir, in which she desired that the ban be enforced in letter and spirit; that the ban on cow slaughter is not allowed to be circumvented by devious methods; and that Committees to inspect cattle before they are admitted to slaughter houses be adopted. Recognizing that the problem basically arose on account of inaction or obstruction on the part of a few States and large scale smuggling of cows and calves from a prohibition State to a non-prohibition State like Kerala was taking place, a suggestion was made that this problem be brought to the notice of the Sarkaria Commission, which was making recommendations regarding Centre-State relations, but this idea was dropped as the Commission was then in the final stages of report-writing.[59]

On 22 November 1985, a Private Member's Bill seeking a ban on the slaughter of cows was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Dr. A.K.Patel, the purpose of which was stated as, "The cow is held in veneration by millions of people of India. It serves the nation in many fields of life. Bullocks are needed for agriculture. ... In the Directive Principles (Article 48) enshrined in the Constitution, a duty has been cast upon the Government to take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves. It is therefore, necessary to have legislation for stoppage of slaughter of cows. Hence the Bill". Since the Bill sought Central legislation on the subject and Parliament did not have the competence to enact any legislation on the subject by virtue of the subject matter falling under entry 15 of List of the Seventh Schedule, it was decided to withhold the recommendations of the President under Article 117(3) of the Constitution for consideration of the Bill in either House of Parliament. (The Government, in 1985, however, considered the question of amending the Constitution to bring the subject of prohibition of slaughter of cows and other milch and draught animals in the Concurrent List, but after due deliberation, decided against it.) In 1990, a Private Member’s Resolution by Guman Mal Lodha, regarding suitable legislation to ban slaughter of cow and its progeny throughout the country was introduced. After detailed discussion on 17 August 1990, the Resolution was put to vote in the House and was first passed by electronic voting. However, since this would have meant a fall of the Government, the voting was redone by slip voting, and subsequently the resolution was defeated, although by a narrow margin, due to the fact that several Members were prevailed upon to change their stand to save the Government of the day. On 10 August 1990, a Private Member’s Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Lodha seeking amendment of Articles 48 and 246 of the Constitution read with List II (State List) of the Seventh Schedule. The Bill could not be discussed and debated in the Lok Sabha on account of its dissolution but was re-introduced in the Lok Sabha on 30 August 1991 in the form of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 1991. The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill read, "Although Article 48 of the Constitution provides for prohibition of slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle, the States of West Bengal and Kerala have not yet introduced prohibition of cow slaughter. Moreover, Article 48 provides for prohibition of cow slaughter and not for the progeny of cow. In the absence of an entry providing for prohibition of slaughter of cow and its progeny in List III – Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution, the Parliament cannot enact a law for the prohibition of cow slaughter. The Supreme Court in the past has taken the view that though a ban on cow slaughter is constitutional yet slaughter of other animals like bullock, she-buffaloes etc. can be allowed if such animals are not economically viable. The people of India, both for economic and religious reasons, have always demanded complete ban on slaughter of cow and its progeny and other milch animals but it has not been accepted so far. Hence, this Bill."[55]

On 24 February 1994, Kanshiram Rana introduced in the Lok Sabha a Bill entitled “Ban on Cow Slaughter Bill, 1993, seeking to prohibit the slaughtering of cows in India. The statement of objects and reasons attached to the Bill stated, "Article 48 of the Constitution enjoins on the State to organise Agriculture and Animal Husbandry on modern and scientific lines and in particular to take steps for preserving and improving the breeds and prohibiting the slaughter of cow and its progeny. In view of the consideration that the Cow and its Progeny must be saved with a view to provide milk, bullock power as well as manure, it becomes imperative to impose a complete ban on Cow Slaughter.” An identical Bill was introduced by Rana again on 22 November 1996, with the same objects and reasons. At the time of introduction of this Bill also, G.M.Banatwala, supported by Iliyas Azmi, opposed the introduction on the grounds that Parliament had no competence to legislate on the matter. However, after a short debate, the Deputy Speaker granted leave to introduce the Bill and it was introduced by Rana.[58]

The Ban on Cow Slaughter Bill, 1999 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Shri Adityanath which provided for complete prohibition on slaughter of cows for all purposes. The statement of objects and reasons appended to the Bill stated, “Article 48 of the Constitution enjoins on the State to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and in particular to take steps for preserving and improving the breeds and prohibiting the slaughter of cow and its progeny. In view of the consideration that the cow and its entire progeny must be saved to provide milk, as well as manure, it becomes imperative to impose a complete ban on the cow slaughter.” In 2000, U.V. Krishnam Raju moved a motion in the Lok Sabha for the introduction of The Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Bill, 2000 with the following statement of objects and reasons, “Article 48 of the Constitution enjoins upon the State to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and in particular to take steps for preserving and improving the breeds and prohibiting the slaughter of cow and its progeny. In view of the consideration that the Cow and its Progeny must be saved to provide milk and milk product, as well as manure, it has become necessary to enforce prohibition of cow slaughter.” When Krishnam Raju moved the motion on 20 April 2000 for leave of the House to introduce the Bill, G. M. Banatwala, raised the issue regarding the legislative competence of Parliament to enact legislation on the subject. Banatwala referred to the opinion given by the then Attorney General, M.C. Setalvad in the Lok Sabha on 1 April 1954 on the issue, to the effect that it was outside the legislative competence of that House to come forward with any Bill concerning organization of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry. However, the Chairman of the Lok Sabha in his ruling on the point raised by Banatwala interalia observed that Chair does not decide whether the Bill is constitutionally within the legislative competence of the House or not and further, the House also does not take a decision on the specific question of vires of the Bill. The motion moved by was, therefore, put to the vote of the House and adopted. Accordingly, the Chair permitted introduction of the Bill by Krishnam Raju.[58]

On 22 December 2000, S.S. Ahluwalia introduced a Private Member’s Bill entitled ‘Prevention of Cow Slaughter Bill, 2000’ in the Rajya Sabha. The statement of objects and reasons appended to the Bill stated, "Article 48 of our Constitution enjoins upon the State to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and take steps for preserving and improving the breeds and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves. This directive has been given by the Constitution and more so cow is considered sacred as “Gaumata” by the believers of HInduism as, according to HIndu mythology, cow is the mother of Lord Vishnu. Religious sentiments of overwhelming section of the society are, therefore, also attached with cow. ... Moreover to increase milk production, bullock power in rural parts and natural manure in the country it becomes necessary to ban cow slaughter completely throughout the country. Hence this Bill.” A Private Member’s Resolution was put up by Prahlad Singh Patel in the Lok Sabha on which discussion commenced on 26 July 2002. The resolution stated, "This House is of the opinion that the Government should bring forward a suitable legislation to ban slaughter of cow and its progeny throughout the country.”[60]

Legislation by State or Union Territory[edit]

Legislation by State or Union Territory[61]
State/UT Legal for slaughter Illegal for slaughter Penal provisions[a] Notes
Max. jail term Max. fine Bail? Cogn.?
Andhra Pradesh Bulls and bullocks on obtaining "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, to be given only if the animal is not economical or is not likely to become economical for the purpose of breeding or draught/agricultural operations All cattle without a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, and cows (includes heifer, or a calf, whether male or female of a cow) 6 months INR1,000 Yes Yes
Arunachal Pradesh All cattle None Legal Legal N/A N/A No ban on cattle slaughter.
Assam All cattle on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, to be given if cattle is over 14 years of age or has become permanently incapacitated for work or breeding due to injury, deformity or any incurable disease All cattle without a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate 6 months INR1,000 Yes Yes
Bihar Bulls or bullocks of over 15 years of age or has become permanently incapacitated for work or breeding due to injury, deformity or any incurable disease is permitted Cow and calf; and Bulls or bullocks, except as stated previously 6 months INR1,000 Yes Yes Export of cows, calves, bulls and bullocks from Bihar, for any purpose, is banned.
Daman and Diu Cow (includes cow, heifer or calf), only if the animal is suffering pain or contagious disease or for medical research All cattle 2 years INR1,000 No Yes Total prohibition on the sale of beef or beef products in any form.
Delhi Buffalo Cows of all ages, calves of cows of all ages, and bulls and bullocks 5 years (max.)
6 months (min.)
INR10,000 (max.)
INR1,000 (min.)
No Yes Transport or export of cattle for slaughter is prohibited. Export for other purposes is permitted on declaration that cattle will not be slaughtered, however, export to a State where slaughter is not banned by law is not be permitted. Burden of proof lies with the accused.
Goa Cow, only if the animal is suffering pain or contagious disease or for medical research Cows, except as stated previously 2 years INR1,000 No Yes Goa has two laws regarding cattle slaughter concerning cows and other cattle respectively, and prescribes varying offences and penalies for contravening their provisions. The sale of beef obtained in contravention of these provisions is prohibited, but, sale of beef imported from other States is legal.
Bulls, bullocks, male calves and buffaloes of all ages on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, which is not given if the animal is likely to become economical for draught, breeding or milk (in the case of she-buffaloes) purposes All cattle without a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate 6 months INR1,000 Yes Yes
Gujarat Buffaloes on certain conditions All other cattle 7 years INR50,000 Yes Yes
Haryana None Cow (includes bull, bullock, ox, heifer or calf), and its progeny 5 years INR5,000 No Yes The export of cattle for slaughter and the sale of beef are both prohibited. Burden of proof lies with the accused.
Himachal Pradesh None Cow (includes bull, bullock, ox, heifer or calf), and its progeny 2 years INR1,000 No Yes The export of cattle for slaughter and the sale of beef are both prohibited. Burden of proof lies with the accused.
Jammu and Kashmir None Voluntary slaughter of all cattle 10 years 5 times the price of the animals slaughtered Yes No Possession of flesh of killed or slaughtered animals is also an offence punishable with imprisonment up to 1 year and fine up to INR500.
Karnataka Bulls, bullocks and adult buffaloes is permitted on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate provided cattle is over 12 years of age or is permanently incapacitated for breeding, draught or milk due to injury, deformity or any other cause Cow, calf of a cow (male or female) or calf of a she-buffalo 6 months INR1,000 Yes Yes Transport for slaughter to a place outside the State not permitted. Sale, purchase or disposal of a cow or a calf, for slaughter, is not permitted.
Kerala All cattle None Legal Legal N/A N/A No state legislation concerning the slaughter of cattle. However, no slaughter certificate shall be granted in respect of a bull, bullock, cow calf, he-buffalo or she-buffalo or buffalo calf unless the animal is over 10 years of age and is unfit for work or breeding or the animal has become permanently incapacitated for work or breeding due to injury or deformity, in Panchayat (non-municipal) and municipal areas in the State.
Madhya Pradesh Bulls and bullocks, provided the cattle is over 15 years or has become unfit for work or breeding Cows, calves of cows, bulls, bullocks and buffalo calves 3 years (max.)
6 months (min.)
INR5,000 (max.)
INR1,000 (min.)
Yes Yes Transport or export of cattle for slaughter not permitted. Export for any purpose to another State where cow slaughter is not banned by law is not permitted. The sale, purchase and/or disposal of cow and its progeny and possession of flesh of cattle is prohibited. Burden of proof lies with the accused.
Maharashtra Bulls, bullocks and buffaloes on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, if it is not likely to become economical for draught, breeding or milk (in the case of she-buffaloes) purposes Cows (includes a heifer or male or female calf of a cow) 6 months INR1,000 Yes Yes Burden of proof lies with the accused.
Manipur All cattle None Legal Legal N/A N/A No state legislation concerning the slaughter of cattle. Cattle slaughter is restricted under a proclamation by the Maharaja in the Durbar Resolution of 1939 which states, "According to Hindu religion the killing of cow is a sinful act. It is also against Manipur Custom. ... if any one is seen killing a cow in the State he should be prosecuted."
Meghalaya All cattle None Legal Legal N/A N/A No state legislation concerning the slaughter of cattle.
Mizoram All cattle None Legal Legal N/A N/A No ban on cattle slaughter.
Nagaland All cattle None Legal Legal N/A N/A No state legislation concerning the slaughter of cattle.
Odisha Bulls and bullocks, on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, provided that the cattle is over 14 years of age or has become permanently unfit for breeding or draught Cows (includes heifer or calf) 2 years INR1,000 Yes Yes
Puducherry Bulls and bullocks is permitted, on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, provided that the cattle is over age of 15 years or has become permanently unfit for breeding or draught Cows (includes heifer or calf) 2 years INR1,000 No Yes The sale and/or transport of beef is prohibited.
Punjab None Cow (includes bull, bullock, ox, heifer or calf), and its progeny 2 years INR1,000 No Yes The export of cattle for slaughter and the sale of beef are both prohibited. Burden of proof lies with the accused.
Rajasthan None All bovine animals (includes cow, calf, heifer, bull or bullocks) 2 years (max.)
1 year (min.)
INR10,000 No Yes Possession, sale and/or transport of beef and beef products; and the export of bovine animals for slaughter is prohibited. Custody of seized animals must be given, by law, to any recognized voluntary animal welfare agency failing which to any Goshala, Gosadan or a suitable person who volunteers to maintain the animal. Burden of proof lies with the accused.
Sikkim All cattle None Legal Legal N/A N/A No ban on cattle slaughter.
Tamil Nadu All cattle (except cows including heifers) on obtaining "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, issued if an animal was over 10 years of age and was unfit for work and breeding or had become permanently incapacitated for work and breeding due to injury deformity or any incurable disease Cows (including heifers) 3 years INR1,000 Yes No
Telengana Bulls and bullocks on obtaining "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, to be given only if the animal is not economical or is not likely to become economical for the purpose of breeding or draught/agricultural operations All cattle without a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, and cows (includes heifer, or a calf, whether male or female of a cow) 6 months INR1,000 Yes Yes
Tripura All cattle None Legal Legal N/A N/A No ban on cattle slaughter.
Uttar Pradesh Cow (includes a heifer and calf) and its progeny 2 years INR1,000 No Yes Transport of cow outside the State for slaughter is prohibited. The sale of beef is prohibited. The law defines "beef" as the flesh of cow and of such bull or bullock whose slaughter is prohibited under the Act, but does not include such flesh contained in sealed containers and imported into the State.
West Bengal All cattle on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, only issued if the animal is over 14 years of age and unfit for work or breeding or has become permanently incapacitated for work and breeding due to age, injury, deformity, or any incurable disease All cattle without a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate 6 months INR1,000 Yes Yes

Andhra Pradesh[edit]

The Andhra Pradesh Prohibition of Cow Slaughter and Animal Preservation Act, 1977 governs the slaughter of cattle in the state. Slaughter of cows (includes heifer, or a calf, whether male or female of a cow) is prohibited. The law does not define the age of a "calf". Slaughter of bulls and bullocks is allowed on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, to be given only if the animal is not economical or is not likely to become economical for the purpose of breeding or draught/agricultural operations.

Anyone violating the law can be punished with imprisonment up to maximum of 6 months or fine of up to INR1,000 or both. The crime is treated as a cognizable offence.[62]

Arunachal Pradesh[edit]

No ban on cattle slaughter. Beef is consumed widely in the state.[63]

Assam[edit]

The Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 governs the slaughter of cattle in the state. Slaughter of all cattle, including bulls, bullocks, cows, calves, male and female buffaloes and buffalo calves is prohibited. Slaughter of all cattle is allowed on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, to be given if cattle is over 14 years of age or has become permanently incapacitated for work or breeding due to injury, deformity or any incurable disease.

Anyone violating the law can be punished with imprisonment up to maximum of 6 months or fine of up to INR1,000 or both. The crime is treated as a cognizable offence.[62]

Bihar[edit]

The Bihar Preservation and Improvement of Animals Act, 1955 governs the slaughter of cattle in the state. Slaughter of cow and calf is totally prohibited. Slaughter of bulls or bullocks of over 15 years of age or has become permanently incapacitated for work or breeding due to injury, deformity or any incurable disease is permitted. The law also bans the export of cows, calves, bulls and bullocks from Bihar, for any purpose. The law defines a bull as "an uncastrated male of above 3 years", a bullock as "castrated male of above 3 years", a calf as "male or female below 3 years" and a cow as "female above 3 years".

Anyone violating the law can be punished with imprisonment up to maximum of 6 months or fine of up to INR1,000 or both. The crime is treated as a cognizable offence.[62]

Daman and Diu[edit]

The Goa, Daman & Diu Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1978 governs the slaughter of cattle in Daman and Diu. There is a total ban on slaughter of cow (includes cow, heifer or calf), except when the cow is suffering pain or contagious disease or for medical research. The law does not define the age of a "calf". There is also a total prohibition on the sale of beef or beef products in any form in the union territory.

Anyone violating the law can be punished with imprisonment up to 2 years or fine up to INR1,000 or both. The crime is treated as a cognizable and non-bailable offence.[62]

Delhi[edit]

The Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act, 1994 governs the slaughter of cattle in the state. Slaughter of all agricultural cattle is totally prohibited. The law defines "agricultural cattle" as cows of all ages, calves of cows of all ages, and bulls and bullocks.[62] The slaughter of buffaloes is legal. The possession of the flesh of agricultural cattle slaughtered outside Delhi is also prohibited.[64] The transport or export of cattle for slaughter is also prohibited. Export for other purposes is permitted on declaration that cattle will not be slaughtered. However, export to a State where slaughter is not banned by law will not be permitted.[62]

Anyone violating the law can be punished with imprisonment up to 5 years and fine up to INR10,000, provided that minimum imprisonment should not be for less than 6 months and fine not less than INR1,000. The law places the burden of proof on the accused. The crime is treated as a cognizable and non-bailable offence.[62]

Goa[edit]

The Goa, Daman & Diu Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1978 and The Goa Animal Preservation Act, 1995 govern the slaughter of cattle in the state. Under the 1978 Act, which also applies to Daman and Diu, there is a total ban on slaughter of cow (includes cow, heifer or calf), except when the cow is suffering pain or contagious disease or for medical research. The law does not define the age of a "calf". Anyone violating the law can be punished with imprisonment up to 2 years or fine up to INR1,000 or both. The crime is treated as a cognizable and non-bailable offence.

The Goa Animal Preservation Act, 1995 applies to bulls, bullocks, male calves and buffaloes of all ages. All the animals can be slaughtered on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate which is not given if the animal is likely to become economical for draught, breeding or milk (in the case of she-buffaloes) purposes. The sale of beef obtained in contravention of the above provisions is prohibited. However, sale of beef imported from other States is legal. Anyone violating the law can be punished with imprisonment up to maximum of 6 months or fine of up to INR1,000 or both. The crime is treated as a cognizable offence.[62]

Gujarat[edit]

The Gujarat Animal Preservation Act (GAPA) 1954 governs the slaughter of cattle in the state. Slaughter of cows, calves of cows, bulls and bullocks is totally prohibited. Slaughter of buffaloes is permitted on certain conditions. Anyone violating the law could be punished with imprisonment up to maximum of 6 months or fine of up to INR1,000 or both. The crime is treated as a cognizable offence.[62]

The Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill 2011 was passed unopposed in the Legislative Assembly, with support from the main opposition party, on 27 September 2011. The amendment, which came into effect in October 2011, criminalized transporting the animal for the purpose of slaughter and included a provision to confiscate the vehicle used for carrying cow meat. It also increased the maximum jail term for slaughtering cattle to 7 years and maximum fine to INR50,000.[65][66][67]

Haryana[edit]

The Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955 applies to Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. Therefore, the law governing the slaughter of cattle in Haryana has the same provisions as that in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. However, Haryana has stricter penalties for violating the law than the other 2 states.

Slaughter of cow (includes bull, bullock, ox, heifer or calf), and its progeny, is totally prohibited. The export of cattle for slaughter and the sale of beef are both prohibited.[62] This "does not include flesh of cow contained in sealed containers and imported", meaning that restaurants in the states can serve beef, if they can prove its meat has been imported into the state. The law also excuses the killing of cows "by accident or in self defence".[64] Consumption of beef is not penalized.[63] Anyone violating the law can be punished with rigorous imprisonment up to 5 years or fine up to INR5,000 or both. The law places the burden of proof on the accused. The crime is treated as a cognizable and non-bailable offence.[62]

Himachal Pradesh[edit]

The Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955 applies to Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. Therefore, the law governing the slaughter of cattle in Himachal Pradesh is the same as that in Punjab and Haryana. However, Himachal and Punjab have lighter penalties for violating the law than Haryana.

Slaughter of cow (includes bull, bullock, ox, heifer or calf), and its progeny, is totally prohibited. The export of cattle for slaughter and the sale of beef are both prohibited. Anyone violating the law can be punished with imprisonment up to a maximum of 2 years or fine up to INR1,000 or both. The law places the burden of proof on the accused. The crime is treated as a cognizable and non-bailable offence.[62]

Jammu and Kashmir[edit]

The Ranbir Penal Code, 1932 governs the slaughter of cattle in Jammu and Kashmir. Voluntary slaughter of any bovine animal such as ox, bull, cow or calf shall be punished with imprisonment of either description which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine. The fine may extend to 5 times the price of the animals slaughtered as determined by the court. Possession of the flesh of slaughtered animals is also an offence punishable with imprisonment up to 1 year and fine up to INR500.[62]

Karnataka[edit]

The Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964 governs the slaughter of cattle in the state. Slaughter of cow, calf of a cow (male or female) or calf of a she-buffalo totally prohibited. Slaughter of bulls, bullocks and adult buffaloes is permitted on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate provided cattle is over 12 years of age or is permanently incapacitated for breeding, draught or milk due to injury, deformity or any other cause. Transport for slaughter to a place outside the State not permitted. Sale, purchase or disposal of a cow or a calf, for slaughter, is not permitted.

Anyone violating the law can be punished with imprisonment up to maximum of 6 months or fine of up to INR1,000 or both. The crime is treated as a cognizable offence.[62]

Kerala[edit]

Kerala has no state legislation concerning the slaughter of cattle. There is no restriction on cow slaughter. Unlike most other Indian states, beef is eaten by a large section of people in Kerala. Beef is sold at meat shops while cattle is traded at weekly markets across the state.[68] However, Panchayat laws provide for prohibition of slaughter of "useful animals" in Panchayat (non-municipal) areas of the State.

Under the Kerala Panchayat (Slaughter Houses and Meat Stalls) Rules, 1964, no certificate shall be granted under Rule 8 in respect of a bull, bullock, cow calf, he-buffalo or she-buffalo or buffalo calf unless the animal is over 10 years of age and is unfit for work or breeding or the animal has become permanently incapacitated for work or breeding due to injury or deformity. In 1976, the Government of Kerala issued an executive order banning the slaughter of useful animals in the municipal areas as well.[62]

Madhya Pradesh[edit]

The Madhya Pradesh Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act, 1959 governs the slaughter of cattle in the state. Slaughter of cows, calves of cows, bulls, bullocks and buffalo calves is prohibited. However, bulls and bullocks are being slaughtered in the light of a Supreme Court judgement, provided the cattle is over 15 years or has become unfit for work or breeding. Transport or export of cattle for slaughter not permitted. Export for any purpose to another State where cow slaughter is not banned by law is not permitted. The sale, purchase and/or disposal of cow and its progeny and possession of flesh of cattle is prohibited.

Anyone violating the law can be punished with imprisonment up to a maximum of 3 years and fine of INR5,000 or both. Normally imprisonment shall not be less than 6 months and fine not less than INR1,000. The law places the burden of proof on the accused. The crime is treated as a cognizable offence.[62]

Maharashtra[edit]

The Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976 governs the slaughter of cattle in the state. Slaughter of cows (includes a heifer or male or female calf of a cow) is totally prohibited. Slaughter of bulls, bullocks and buffaloes is allowed on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter certificate", if it is not likely to become economical for draught, breeding or milk (in the case of she-buffaloes) purposes.

Anyone violating the law can be punished with imprisonment up to an imprisonment up to maximum of 6 months and fine of up to INR1,000. The law places the burden of proof on the accused. The crime is treated as a cognizable offence.[62]

Manipur[edit]

In Manipur, cattle slaughter is restricted under a proclamation by the Maharaja in the Durbar Resolution of 1939. The proclamation states, "According to Hindu religion the killing of cow is a sinful act. It is also against Manipur Custom. I cannot allowed such things to be committed in my State. So if any one is seen killing a cow in the State he should be prosecuted."[62] However, beef is largely consumed in the hill districts with large Christian populations and sold openly in cities like Churachandpur.[68]

Meghalaya[edit]

No restrictions on cattle slaughter.[62] Beef is consumed widely[63] and openly sold in cities like Shillong.[68]

Mizoram[edit]

No ban on cattle slaughter. Beef is consumed widely in the state.[63]

Nagaland[edit]

No restrictions on cattle slaughter.[62] Beef is consumed widely[63] and openly sold in cities like Dimapur.[68]

Odisha[edit]

The Orissa Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1960 governs the slaughter of cattle in the state. Slaughter of cows (includes heifer or calf) is totally prohibited. Slaughter of bulls and bullocks is permitted, on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, provided that the cattle is over 14 years of age or has become permanently unfit for breeding or draught.

Anyone violating the law can be punished with imprisonment up to a maximum of 2 years or fine up to INR1,000 or both. The crime is treated as a cognizable offence.[62]

Puducherry[edit]

The Pondicherry Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1968 governs the slaughter of cattle in Puducherry. Slaughter of cows (includes heifer or calf) is totally prohibited. Slaughter of bulls and bullocks is permitted, on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, provided that the cattle is over age of 15 years or has become permanently unfit for breeding or draught. The sale and/or transport of beef is prohibited.

Anyone violating the law can be punished with imprisonment up to a maximum of 2 years or fine up to INR1,000 or both. The crime is treated as a cognizable and non-bailable offence.[62]

Punjab[edit]

The Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955 applies to Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. Therefore, the law governing the slaughter of cattle in Punjab has the same provisions as that in Himachal Pradesh. However, Punjab and Himachal have lighter penalties for violating the law than Haryana.

Slaughter of cow (includes bull, bullock, ox, heifer or calf), and its progeny, is totally prohibited. The export of cattle for slaughter and the sale of beef are both prohibited.[62] This "does not include flesh of cow contained in sealed containers and imported", meaning that restaurants in the states can serve beef, if they can prove its meat has been imported into the state. The law also excuses the killing of cows "by accident or in self defence".[64] Consumption is not penalized.[63] Anyone violating the law can be punished with imprisonment up to a maximum of 2 years or fine up to INR1,000 or both. The law places the burden of proof on the accused. The crime is treated as a cognizable and non-bailable offence.[62]

Rajasthan[edit]

The Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 1995 governs the slaughter of cattle in the state. Slaughter of all bovine animals (includes cow, calf, heifer, bull or bullocks) is prohibited. Possession, sale and/or transport of beef and beef products is prohibited. The export of bovine animals for slaughter is prohibited. The law requires custody of seized animals to be given to any recognized voluntary animal welfare agency failing which to any Goshala, Gosadan or a suitable person who volunteers to maintain the animal.

Anyone violating the law can be punished with rigorous imprisonment of not less than 1 year and up to a maximum of 2 years and fine up to INR10,000. The law places the burden of proof on the accused.[62]

Sikkim[edit]

No ban on cattle slaughter. Beef is consumed widely in the state.[63]

Tamil Nadu[edit]

The Tamil Nadu Animal Preservation Act, 1958 governs the slaughter of cattle in the state. All animals could be slaughtered on obtaining "fit-for-slaughter" certificate. The law defined "animals" as bulls, bullocks, cows, calves; and buffaloes of all ages. The certificate was issued if an animal was over 10 years of age and was unfit for work and breeding or had become permanently incapacitated for work and breeding due to injury deformity or any incurable disease. Anyone violating the Act can be punished with imprisonment of up to 3 years or fine up to INR1,000 or both.[62]

On 30 August 1976, the Government of Tamil Nadu ordered a ban on cow slaughter. Under the new law, the slaughter of cows (including heifers) is banned in all slaughterhouses in Tamil Nadu. However, the ban is not stringently implemented. Consumption of beef is not banned and it is sold at meat shops, but beef dishes are not served by most major restaurants, barring a few.[68]

Telengana[edit]

The Andhra Pradesh Prohibition of Cow Slaughter and Animal Preservation Act, 1977 governs the slaughter of cattle in Telengana. Slaughter of cows (includes heifer, or a calf, whether male or female of a cow) is prohibited. The law does not define the age of a "calf". Slaughter of bulls and bullocks is allowed on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate, to be given only if the animal is not economical or is not likely to become economical for the purpose of breeding or draught/agricultural operations.

Anyone violating the law can be punished with imprisonment up to maximum of 6 months or fine of up to INR1,000 or both. The crime is treated as a cognizable offence.[62]

Tripura[edit]

No ban on cattle slaughter. Beef is consumed widely in the state.[63]

Uttar Pradesh[edit]

The Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955 governs the slaughter of cattle in the state. Slaughter of cow (includes a heifer and calf) is totally prohibited. Transport of cow outside the State for slaughter is not permitted. The sale of beef is prohibited. The law defines "beef" as the flesh of cow and of such bull or bullock whose slaughter is prohibited under the Act, but does not include such flesh contained in sealed containers and imported into Uttar Pradesh. Anyone violating the Act can be punished with rigorous imprisonment of up to 2 years or fine up to INR1,000 or both. The crime is treated as a cognizable and non-bailable offence.[62]

The Act permitted the slaughter of bull or bullock on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate provided it was over the age of 15 years or had become permanently unfit for breeding, draught and any agricultural operations.[62] However, the Government of Uttar Pradesh issued an ordinance in 2001, prohibiting the slaughter of cow and its progeny.[54]

West Bengal[edit]

The West Bengal Animal Slaughter Act, 1950 governs the slaughter of cattle in the state. Slaughter of all animals is permitted on obtaining a "fit-for-slaughter" certificate. The law defines "animals" as bulls, bullocks, cows, calves and buffaloes of all types/ages. The certificate is only issued if the animal is over 14 years of age and unfit for work or breeding or has become permanently incapacitated for work and breeding due to age, injury, deformity, or any incurable disease. Anyone violating the law can be punished with rigorous imprisonment of up to a maximum of 6 months or fine up to INR1,000 or both. The crime is treated as a cognizable offence.[62]

There is no ban on the consumption of beef or slaughter if carried out in government or municipal slaughterhouses after a certificate from a veterinarian. The Animal Slaughter Control Act exempts slaughter for religious purposes, however the Supreme Court has stated that such exclusions are illegal.[63]

Recommendations of various Committees/Commissions on cow slaughter[edit]

The Government set up various Committees and Expert Groups to look into the question of a ban on cow slaughter as well as related aspects concerning development and preservation of the cattle wealth of the country. Some of the more important Committees / Commissions are discussed below.[69]

Cattle Preservation and Development Committee (1947-48)[edit]

The Cattle Preservation and Development Committee was appointed by the Ministry of Agriculture in November 1947 to consider the question of banning slaughter of cattle in all its aspects and to recommend a comprehensive plan of action for preserving the cattle wealth of the country and for promoting its development.[47] The Committee, under the Chairmanship of Sardar Bahadur Datar Singh, was constituted by a Government Resolution, dated 19 November 1947. The introductory part of the Resolution read, "It has been brought to the notice of the Government of India that large numbers of cattle are annually slaughtered in this country for meat, that this slaughter is often indiscriminate, that it includes animals of all ages and qualities and that the slaughter results in short supplies of milk and work bullocks and in the depletion of the country’s cattle wealth. There has been considerable agitation in the press, on the platform and on the floor of the Legislature in regard to this matter, and Government has been urged to take immediate steps to prohibit slaughter by legislation. As this is a complicated socio-religious subject the Government of India have after careful consideration decided to appoint an Export Committee of officials and non-officials to consider the question in all its aspects and to recommend a comprehensive plan of action which can be put into immediate effect for preserving the cattle wealth of the country and for promoting its development." The Government asked the Committee to pay "particular attention" to the following while considering the subject:[55]

  • The cause and the extent of periodical variation in the population of each class of cattle and the effect of such variation on the supply of milk and bullock power.
  • Detailed examination of the available statistics of slaughter, proportion of useful animals therein and an estimate of the material loss caused thereby.
  • Population trend of old and unproductive cattle and the problem of their maintenance and economic utilization in view both of shortage of cattle feed and of prevailing sentiments against slaughter.
  • How agencies like Gaushalas and Cattle Protection Societies and Salvage Centres can be utilized for preserving cattle wealth and for promoting its development.
  • Review of existing regulations regarding restrictions on cattle slaughter and of the administrative arrangements for the enforcement of the regulations.[55]

The final recommendation of the Datar Singh Committee read, "This Committee is of the opinion that slaughter of cattle is not desirable in India under any circumstances whatsoever, and that its prohibition shall be enforced by law. The prosperity of India to a very large extent depends on her cattle and the soul of the country can feel satisfied only if cattle slaughter is banned completely and simultaneous steps are taken to improve the cattle, which are in a deplorable condition at present." The Committee suggested that, the first stage, which should be given effect to immediately, should cover the total prohibition of slaughter of all useful cattle other than animals over 14 years of age and unfit for work and breeding, and animals of any age permanently unable to work or breed owing to age, injury or deformity. The committee also suggested that unlicensed and unauthorized slaughter of cattle should be immediately prohibited and made a cognizable offence under law. In the second stage, the Committee envisaged that slaughter of cattle should be prohibited totally. The Committee also made suggestions for arrangements for maintenance and care of serviceable and unproductive cattle and for development of feed and fodder etc.[55] It recommended conducting a survey of the country to find out the areas where Go-sadans may be established and all details with regard to expenditure, etc., should be worked out and arrangements made; as well as enacting necessary legislation for the raising of funds for the utilisation in the improvement of Gaushalas and Go-sadans.

While summing up general discussions, the Chairman observed that there was a large degree of unanimity in that the whole committee wanted cattle slaughter to be stopped completely. Majority of the members were of the view that prevention of slaughter should be enforced by legislation, while the minority was of the view that no legislative action should be resorted to. They held that the urge for stopping slaughter should come from within and that it would come when people were convinced of the economics of the whole matter.[69]

The recommendation regarding the first stage towards a total ban on slaughter of cattle was taken up by several Indian states and within a few years, laws were enacted in several States banning the slaughter of all cattle below the age of 14.[47]

Uttar Pradesh Committee (1948) and Nanda Committee (1954)[edit]

A Committee was constituted in Uttar Pradesh in 1948, which included prominent persons from all communities, including the Nawab of Chattari, and UP High Court Justice Maharaj Singh. This Committee supported the recommendations of the Sardar Datar Singh Committee. Despite this, when in 1955, the U.P. Cow Slaughter Prohibition Act was enacted, an exception was made to allow the stocking and sale of beef, etc. in closed containers at airports and railway stations. In 1954, another Expert Committee was set up under the Chairmanship of the then Animal Husbandry Commissioner P.N. Nanda, to consider, inter alia, what steps should be taken to prevent the killing of milch cows, even when they had gone temporarily dry. In its report, submitted in January 1955, the Committee stated that a total ban on slaughter of cattle would be undesirable, in view of the shortage of dry and green fodder, and concentrates. The Committee reasoned that, as India had little fodder and cattle feed, it could only maintain 40% of its cattle and, therefore, the remaining 60% should be culled.[47]

Expert Committee on the Prevention of Slaughter of Milch Cattle in India (1954-55)[edit]

An expert committee was set up by Government Resolution dated 10 June 1954, under the Chairmanship of then Animal Husbandry Commissioner P.N.Nanda, to consider what steps should be taken to prevent the killing of milch cows particularly in the cities of Calcutta and Bombay even when they had gone temporarily dry; to make the present law on the subject more effective so as to put an end to such evil practices as phooka; to explore the possibility of making milk powder in suitable centers; and to impose some effective control on the inter-state movement of cattle.[69]

The Committee, in its report submitted in January 1955 found that the root cause of slaughter of milch cattle was the unnatural conditions under which animals were kept for milk production in urban areas. The sale of dry animals for slaughter became under these conditions an economic necessity. The only way in which the abuse could be permanently prevented was to follow the methods found most suitable by other countries, namely the removal of cattle from the cities and the arrangements of milk supplies from rural areas. By doing this, not only would the slaughter of prime milch cattle and all the accompanying evils be stopped for ever, but there would be large development of cattle and dairy industries of the country. The Committee felt that measures like legislative ban on slaughter and cruelty or salvage of animals which have already been mishandled and misused in city stable, will only be treating the symptoms and not curing the disease.[69]

Gosamvardhan Seminar (1960)[edit]

The problems of salvage from cities and towns of milch stock when they go dry and their calves and ways and means for preserving good-quality cattle in the breeding areas were discussed at the Gosamwardhana Seminar at Mount Abu in June 1960. The Seminar, organized by the Central Council of Gosamwardhana, felt that the problem of preservation of cattle in breeding areas was linked with the system of milk supply to the big cities and therefore the only solution was to remove the milch cattle from cities and town to rural areas. As an interim measure, the good quality animals should be salvaged. The Committee suggested that the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act should be rigidly enforced so that the health of animals was maintained. Dry-stock farms, operated by private enterprises should be tried out, for maintaining animals when they are dry. Railway freight should be subsidized for movement of the animals.[69]

Special Committee on Preserving High-yielding Cattle (1961-62)[edit]

Programmes for implementing the recommendations of the Nanda Committee and the Gosamwardhan Seminars were taken up by the States concerned under the Five Year Plans but the scope of the programmes was limited. Meanwhile, the exodus of the superior types of milch cattle from the breeding areas continued in an accelerated manner, in view of the larger demand for milk in urban areas. Alarmed at this situation, the Central Council for Gosamvardhans set up a special high-powered committee for suggesting comprehensive proposals on long-term and short-term measures for solving the problem. Vide its memorandum dated 29 September 1961, the Council constituted the Special Committee on Preserving High-yielding Cattle under the Chairmanship of Shriman Narayan, Member (Agriculture), Planning Commission. The Committee was asked to examine in detail, the various measures necessary for preserving high-yielding cattle in the breeding tracts, control on the import of milch cattle into city stables, salvage of dry cows and young stock in the cities and suggest a comprehensive programme for implementing the recommendations.[69]

In its report, submitted in July 1962, the Committee made several recommendations for preservation of high-yielding cattle in their breeding tracts. Some of the major recommendations are paraphrased below:

  • In order to prevent the depletion of stock of good quality cattle form breeding tracts through unrestricted removal of a large number of high-yielding milch cattle to areas outside the States, the States concerned should undertake legislation for the registration of milch cattle and for controlling their removal outside the State, keeping in view the problem as a whole affecting the various States.
  • With a view to coordinating and controlling the large-scale movement of milch cattle from the breeding tracts, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture should examine the need for a comprehensive Central Legislation for the preservation of cattle and development of dairying.
  • Implementation of various cattle development schemes should be concentrated in the breeding areas and around dairy projects in the Third Five Year Plans of States like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat.
  • The various schemes drawn up by the States for the preservation and improvement of cattle should receive a high priority and necessary funds for their implementation be allocated in the annual Plans of the States.
  • To control import, maintenance and movement of milch animals in Bombay, licensing of all cattle within the city should be made compulsory. Similarly, Rules should be formulated for import and export of milch animals by various State Governments in consultation with one another and permits should be compulsory for movement of animals to cattle owners who salvage dry animals satisfactorily and adopt improved animal husbandry practices.
  • The West Bengal Animal Slaughter Control Act should be enforced more rigidly and the Act should be suitably amended so as to provide for the prohibition of import and sale of contraband beef in the city. The Act should be extended to other Municipal areas also and, wherever possible, non-officials should be associated in its enforcement.[69]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The maximum jail term and maximum fine columns list the maximum possible punishment specified by law. They should be read together as, "Imprisonment up to a maximum of <Max. jail term> or fine of up to <Max. fine> or both"

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Further reading[edit]

  • Marvin Harris. Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture. Waveland Press. 
  • Michael Charles Tobias. World War III: Population and the Biosphere at the End of the Millennium. Bear & Co., 1994, Second Edition, Continuum. 

External links[edit]