In the year of 2015, there was a big controversy due to the sudden spurt of vigilantism in India; we decided to write about the issue of cow slaughtering, consumption, possession and transportation in India. Let me start this topic with a short story.
Teacher- ‘what is the most expensive thing in this country?’
Teacher- ‘why is that?’
Boy – ‘because it cost me my father’.
This was the story related to the case in Dadri district in UP where a man was lynched as he was consuming beef. There have been various other cases related to this issue such as when two Muslim women were thrashed by right-wing group on the suspicion of carrying beef at railway station in Madhya Pradesh or the flogging of a family of seven members belonging to Dalit family by gau rakshsaks in Gujarat. In the light of such eruption of cow vigilantism in India, we are taking a stress to learn about the laws of beef ban.
Cattle slaughter in India has always been a taboo subject as cows have always been given the traditional status as it is considered as one of the most respected creatures created by God in Hinduism. Article 48 of the Constitution of India mandates the state to prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle. On October 26, 2005, the Supreme Court of India, in a landmark judgement upheld the constitutional validity of anti-cow slaughter laws enacted by different state governments in India.
Article 48 of the Indian Constitution says that- ‘The state shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps to preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.’
However, 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. Many illegal slaughterhouses operate in large cities such as Chennai or Mumbai. As of 2004, there were 3,600 legal and 36,000 illegal slaughterhouses in India. Efforts to close them down have, so far, been largely unsuccessful. In 2013, the state of Andhra Pradesh estimated that there were 3,100 illegal and 6 licensed slaughter houses in the state. India produced 3.463 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.
There is vast difference in between the states regarding the laws governing the cattle slaughter. For example, in Jharkhand, the guilty might face imprison up to 10 years or a fine of 10,000 rupees whereas in West Bengal there are no restrictions regarding the slaughtering of the cow.
According to the preamble of the Indian Constitution, India is a secular state where every man is to treat the same in the eyes of the society and law irrespective of his name. According to article 25 of our Indian Constitution , every man has a right to practice and propagate his/her own religion as long as it does not affect the morals and peace of the society and the act done on banning beef is in controversy with this article. Violence of gau rakshaks or many such instances has a long lasting effect on the society and has become the main reason for disturbances such as riots etc.
Thus, all these facts and such violence leads us to one decision, we as Indian citizens have to decide one thing, whether we want to live in a secular country where a man is lynched or dragged or beaten to death on the basis of what he is keeping in his fridge because that hurt someone’s sentiments or whether we want to live in a country where some people’s extreme religious practices leads to ruining lives.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tanmay Sinha is presently in his second semester in Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad. He has always been interested in engaging himself in activities related to Law apart from academics, such as research papers, article writing etc. He has a passion for law and aims to excel in this field.