Amid a hue and cry across the country over cow slaughter, the Environment Ministry has proposed to bring in a stringent law to prohibit slaughter of cows and calves, import or export of the animal and selling/purchase of beef or beef products.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has asked the Department of Animal Husbandry, Ministry of Agriculture to explore this move in the wake of a ruling by the Himachal Pradesh High Court.
In its order in July last year, the HC asked the Central Government to enact a law prohibiting slaughtering of cows and calves, their import or export and selling of beef or beef products at the national level, and take steps within six months.
There is no Central legislation that bans cow slaughter but many States such as Jharkhand, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have enacted legislation for the same.
“In view of the fact that slaughtering of cow/calf, import or export of cow/calf, selling of beef or beef products and related matters fall under the administration of Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries (cattle division), it is required that necessary action in the matter may kindly be taken,” RS Negi, Under Secretary, Ministry of Environment, wrote to the Animal Husbandry Ministry on December 23. In his note, Negi has referred to the HC order.
Following this, the Department of Animal Husbandry, in a note to the Animal Welfare Board of India, said it was a good development for the welfare of animals. “We may send an advisory to the Ministry to take the necessary initiative for enacting a law to ban slaughter of cow/calf, export of beef under entry 17 of concurrent list as per directions of the High Court. It may be required to make draft amendments to rules 2001 accordingly,” it said.
The Animal Welfare Board of India will soon issue an advisory to the Ministry to take necessary steps to bring about a law to prohibit slaughtering of cows and calves, their import or export and selling of beef or beef products.
The Board is assessing the cost of building new cow shelters and maintaining existing ones to house stray cattle across India.
In its order the court had noted that, “ Only five States and one Union Territory have no legislation on the subject , however, the Union of India has not taken into consideration entry No. 17 and 17 B of the Concurrent List. It is open for the Union of India to enact the law at the national level prohibiting slaughtering of cow/calf, import or export of cow/calf, selling of beef or beef products under entry No. 17 of the Concurrent List. Accordingly, the directions issued by this court on 14.10.2015 to Union of India to enact law prohibiting slaughtering of cow/calf, import or export of cow/calf, selling of beef or beef products, at the national level, are reiterated. The necessary steps must be taken within six months from today,” the court had noted.