Anti-cow slaughter ordinance ‘constitutionally valid’, says Karnataka High Court

Bengaluru: In a major boost to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the State, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday observed that the provision in the ordinance relating to ban on cow slaughter is constitutionally valid.

A batch of petitions was filed by Mohammed Arif Jameel and others, challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance. Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi appeared for the State before the High Court.

The state government contended before the court that the ordinance was in consonance with the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution.

The State further contended by filing a preliminary statement of objections that the cattle population over the past eight years has substantially reduced from 95,16,484 in the 2012 census (19th livestock census) to 84,69,004 in 2019 (20th livestock census), and that as per the 2019 census 2,38,296 cattle are being slaughtered every year and on an average, it works out to 652 per day.

Under the Information Network for Animal Productivity and Health (INAPH) Scheme of the Central government, ear tagging of cattle is undertaken using Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) conforming to Bureau of India Standards, and out of total cattle population of 1,15,53,564, about 96,00,000 cattle are ear-tagged and the work is in progress, the government pointed out.

In its statement, the state government further submitted that there are 4,212 veterinary institutions throughout the State headed by veterinary officers and inspectors who are available on call and there are 176 mobile clinics.

After hearing the Advocate General, the Court observed that the issue relating to the ban on cow slaughter has been affirmed by the Supreme Court in Mirzapur’s case as being constitutionally valid.

The court, however, observed that the government must ensure that no coercive action is taken against farmers who transport animals for animal husbandry, agriculture, and other bona fide purposes until Rules are framed under the provisions of the ordinance.

The development in the High Court today clears hurdles for the Government to effectively implement the cow slaughter ordinance. The anti-cow slaughter law came into effect in Karnataka from January 18, the state government said in a notification.

“All provisions of The Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Ordinance, 2020 comes into force from January 18,” the Karnataka government said. According to the order, three and seven years jail and (or) a fine up to Rs 5 lakh will be imposed under this law and subsequent offences can invite fines up to Rs 10 lakh and a jail term of up to seven years.