After the Bill gets the nod of the assembly, sale, offer or exposure of beef will be prohibited in areas which are predominantly inhabited by Hindu, Jain, Sikh and other non beef-eating communities. The prohibition will also come into effect within a radius of 5km of any temple, satra (Vaishnavite monastery’), or other Hindu religious institutions. It also may be applicable to any other institution or areas prescribed by the competent authority.
“No person shall directly or indirectly sell or offer or expose for sale or buy beef or beef products in any form except at places permitted to do so by the competent authority,” read the Bill.
For enforcing the provisions of the Act, a police officer, not below the rank of sub-inspector, or a registered veterinary officer, or any person authorised by the state government, shall have the power to enter and inspect any premises within their jurisdictions. Wherever the authorised person finds a reason to believe that an offence under this Act has been or is likely to be committed, the inspection authority has been bestowed the power to act. “All veterinary officers and other persons exercising powers under the Act shall be deemed to be public servants within the meaning of section 21 of the Indian Penal Code,” it added.
The Bill, however, brought exemptions for slaughter which is certified by a veterinary officer authorised on this behalf by the state government in the interest of public health. Slaughter of cattle suffering from incurable, infectious, contagious disease or is a danger to other cattle has been permitted but with due permission from the authorised veterinary officer.
While curbing unregulated slaughter, the Bill envisages to allow state government to establish gaushalas directly or may direct a recognised organisation or local authority to start institutions for taking care of cattle. No person shall transport any cattle without valid permit from any place within the state to any place outside the state where slaughter of cattle is not regulated by law. The same will be applicable in case of cattle transportation from another state through Assam to another state. However, the Bill stated that no permission shall be required for carrying cattle to grazing fields or for agricultural or animal husbandry purposes within a particular district.
No permission shall be required for carrying cattle to and from registered animal market for the purpose of sale and purchase of such cattle within the district,” it added.
Violations of the provisions mentioned in the Bill could lead to imprisonment from three to eight years and with fine, which shall not be less than Rs 3 lakh and may extend to Rs 5 lakh or both.
The already existing Assam Cattle Preservation Act 1950, regulates cattle slaughter in Assam, provided concerned veterinary officers give a fit-for-slaughter certificate. Slaughter of cattle that are over 14 years of age is conditionally allowed. The new legislation will repeal the 1950 Act where consumption of beef was not an offence. Besides, the legislation may lead to further intensify the BJP-government’s move against cow smuggling to Bangladesh which is on through the porous international border and riverine areas along the international border for long.