The Karnataka State legislature on Saturday withdrew the controversial Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2010 and Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Preservation (Amendment) Bill 2012 without debate on the last day of the session in Belagavi.
This has ruffled the feathers of the Principal Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party as these Bills had been adopted when it was in power. The government’s action has come at a time when the BJP is trying to intensify its campaign against the government.
The BJP alleged that the government had secretly included the withdrawal of these Bills in the day’s agenda though it was a norm to inform all the parties in advance about such prominent issues.
In the Assembly, the two Bills were withdrawn when the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party members were staging a dharna demanding that they should be allowed to discuss the alleged involvement of four Ministers in corruption. In the Council, the BJP members staged a dharna to protest the withdrawal of the two Bills.
The Legislative Council permitted the State government to withdraw the Bills even as Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council K.S. Eshwarappa said the bills would be tabled by the BJP again when it comes to power.
While Chief Minister Siddaramiah had announced his intention to withdraw these Bills as soon as he took oath as Chief Minister, three months later the State Cabinet too had decided in August 2013 to withdraw the Bills. As the then leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Mr. Siddaramaiah had opposed the Bills and had petitioned the Governor against approving them.
The Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2010 had sought to consider slaughter of cattle a punishable crime. There was stiff resistance to this as several people and organisations alleged that it would virtually ban beef-eating. Some farmers expressed concern as it had banned the slaughter of even he-buffaloes.
Even as this Bill was pending before the President, the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Preservation (Amendment) Bill 2012 was adopted by the Legislature. This Bill sought to broaden the definition of cow by including bull and bullock. Interestingly, this Bill too had been adopted on the last day of the session in Belagavi in 2012.
While the first Bill had been returned by the President, the second Bill is still pending with the governor.
Taking exception to the withdrawal of bills, the BJP maintained that such a measure would lead to ‘friction’ over cattle transportation for slaughter houses.
Leader of the Opposition Jagadish Shettar said the party would soon hold a meeting of its key leaders to finalise a State-wide campaign to be launched against the State government with the involvement of farmers.
The Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter And Preservation Of Cattle Bill, 2010, made significant departures from the Karnataka Prevention Of Cow Slaughter And Cattle Preservation Act, 1964.
The Bill removed any distinction between “cow” and “cattle” and made slaughter of all forms of cattle — including he and she buffaloes — a punishable crime.
Clause 5 of the Bill prohibits not only slaughter, but also “usage and possession of beef” which would mean a complete ban on beef eating. It also deemed slaughter or “cause to slaughter” of cattle a “cognisable and non-bailable” offence.