The constitutional position
In the Directive Principles of State Policy, which are guidelines for framing laws by the Government, the Constitution mentions cow slaughter. Article 48 of the Constitution reads as follows:
- Organisation of agriculture and animal husbandry – The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.
However, it does not by itself mean that it is unconstitutional to slaughter cows in India. Directive Principles are not binding or have by themselves the force of law. It is only when the Parliament or a State Assembly passes a law giving effect to a particular Directive Principle, the latter becomes legally binding.
The Parliament and State Legislatures derive their power to legislate under Article 246 of the Constitution read with Schedule 7, which divides the power of legislation of Central and State Legislatures.
Under the Schedule 7, there is Union, State and Concurrent List of legislative powers.
The preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal disease, veterinary training and practice come under the State List.
This means that individual States have exclusive powers to make laws regarding slaughter of cattle under their jurisdiction.
State laws on cow slaughter
With a few exceptions, cow slaughter is banned in most of the States.
There are no restrictions in Kerala, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.
Although there are different State level legislations against cow slaughter, there is no uniformity of the law.
In Manipur, there is a 1939 decree passed by the king at that time, which prescribes prosecution for cow slaughter. Despite this, beef is widely consumed in the State.
Laws in other States are different with some allowing slaughter of old or diseased animals.
The punishments for violating the bans are also differ from State to State.
For consumption of beef too, the law varies from State to State. For instance, beef can be imported in sealed containers to be served to foreigners in Uttar Pradesh.
Similarly, in 2016 the Bombay high court had ruled that the Maharashtra government’s ban on slaughter of beef in the State doesn’t mean that people couldn’t consume meat imported from other States.
On the other hand, there is a complete ban in States like Haryana and Delhi.
Supreme Court on cow slaughter
The Supreme Court has given contradictory rulings on cow slaughter.
- In a 1958 case, where a five judge bench led by then Chief Justice of India SR Das was deciding the constitutionality of cattle slaughter bans in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the SC ruled that cattle -except cows of all ages and calves –not capable of milch and draught can be slaughtered. It stated that keeping cattle with no economic use would be a burden on the nation’s cattle feed. It also observed that this meat is cheaper than mutton and hence could be used by poor for food.
- In 2005, a seven-judge bench headed by then Chief Justice of India RC Lahoti ruled against this judgment observing that nutrition can not necessarily be associated with non-vegetarian food and that too originating from slaughtering cow and its progeny .
- In 2006, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of laws prohibiting the slaughter of cattle, but said that they could not be interpreted to mean that permission to kill bovine cattle was by itself unconstitutional. A bench of Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal and Justice Tarun Chatterjee arrived at this view while dismissing appeals filed by a Hindu outfit and animal rights activists against a Karnataka High Court decision dismissing their plea seeking a direction to the state government to impose a total ban on the slaughter of bovine cattle.
New Delhi: As per the recent circular, all those who are looking for a government job need to write an essay on cow which will be mandatory question in every competitive exam conducted by UPSC, Public sector banks, LIC, Railways etc.
The notification also says this change is immediate and if any of the aforementioned exams does not have a question in this regard, that exam result will be withheld till a supplementary exam is conducted having this question. Â Â
All the exams related to central government jobs have no other option other than accepting this. However, looking at the public sensitivity about âcowâ, center has played safe, has told, it is up to the states to accept it or not for their respective state government jobs.
Currently majority of states are ruled by BJP or its allies. They have no qualms in accepting this change wholeheartedly.
The states like Gujarat where government has imposed life term for cow slaughtering, in Chhattisgarh where one will be hanged for same offence and in UP where chief minister has no problem in guiding Yadavâs in taking better care of cows have gone ahead and announced the essay on cow will carry 70 percent weightage in exams and each candidate must do proper âresearchâ as they need to write minimum 10k words on cow.
The non-NDA ruled states have opposed the move. Trinamool congress spokesperson Mr. Derek OâBrien said, âOur Didi has clearly told âEta Habe Naâ. We have instructed in West Bengal state government exams, cow word should not be, even due to typo problem âcowâ word comes, we will suspend the exam and fire the officials in charge of that exam. Those who have written on cow to get central government jobs cannot work here, they can go to other states.â
While speaking to us, Mr. Lalit Tiwari, an aspiring candidate for government jobs, said, âIs it some joke? Even in google search canât find an essay more than 500 words. Â I am not for this âcowâ politics. Will probably get less dowry in future, but thatâs ok. I will try for a private sector job.â
Topics:#cow protection#Gau Rakshak#Gujarat#IAS exam#Modi#Uttar Pradesh#vigilantism