Legal provisions for protecting cows in Karnataka

The cows are protected in Karnataka state. The Karnataka prevention of Cow slaughter and cattle preservation act. 1964 provides legal provisions for preventing cow slaughter. With demand for cattle protection increasing, there is a renewed debate for stricter version of cow protection laws. While the discussion for better laws should continue, there is a need to review the existing legal provisions and make an attempt to comply with them.

History of the bill

There were two laws in the Karnataka state to protect cows.  In the Mysore region, the Mysore Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1948, was applicable.  In the areas which were part of the Bombay area, the Bombay Animal Preservation Act, 1954 was in force. In view of some case laws and administrative convenience a uniform law for the whole State was proposed  The . THE KARNATAKA PREVENTION OF COW SLAUGHTER AND CATTLE PRESERVATION ACT, 1964 was published in the Karnataka Gazette (Extraordinary), Part IV-2A dated 20th November 1963 as No. 144 at page. 9.)

 Amendments to the 1964 act

Two amendments have been made to the 1964 act, one in 1966 and another one in 1975.  Both the amendments provided exceptions to the act of 1964 under different circumstances.  The 1966 amendment exempts cow or animals that have been subjected to medical, research and experimental purposes.  The 1966 amendment also exempts cows or animals belonging to the Indian army.  The 1975 act exempts animals belonging to the Ministry of defense or to the state government under certain conditions.

 Which animals are protected by the law?

The term ‘animal’ means bull, bullock, buffalo-male or female, or calf of she-buffalo, whether male or female.  The term ‘cow’ includes cows, calf of a cow, whether male or female.

 Who are authorized to take action?

The term ‘competent authority’ means a person or a body of persons appointed by the state government to perform the functions required to enforce the law in specific areas under this act.  The term ‘notification’ means a notification published in the official Gazette.  The term ‘prescribed’ means prescribed by rules made under this act.

 What exactly is prohibited?

Slaughtering, offer for slaughter, intentionally kill, offer for killing of cow, or calf of she-buffalo is prohibited.  Similarly causing others to slaughter, cause to be offered for slaughter, cause to be offered for killing are also prohibited. It should be noted herein that any law, custom would not resist the ban on slaughtering of the animal.  Transportation or offer for transportation or causing to be transported of any animal or cow from any place within the State to any place outside the State, for the purpose of its slaughter is prohibited.

 Purchasing, selling or offering to purchase, sell or otherwise dispose of or causing to be purchased, sold or otherwise disposed of, cows or calves of she-buffaloes for slaughter is prohibited.

 Legal slaughtering – what is allowed in the law?

Slaughtering is possible with respect to a cow or an animal if a certificate in writing from the competent authority appointed for the area certifying that the animal is fit for slaughter is available.

 A certificate may be granted by competent authority for

  1. the animal is over the age of twelve years; or
  2. the animal has become permanently incapacitated for breeding, draught or giving milk due to injury, deformity or any other cause.

The certificate may be granted in such form and on payment of such fee as may be prescribed. No certificate can be granted if the animal is suffering from any disease, which makes its meat unwholesome for human consumption.

 The animal allowed for slaughtering through a certificate may be slaughtered in a place specified by an authority or officer designated by the State Government.

The following animals are exempted from the act

  1. Animals operated upon for vaccine lymph, serum or for any experimental or research purpose at an institution established, conducted or recognized by the State Government;
  2. Animals certified by a Veterinary Officer authorized by the State Government, to be necessary in the interest of the public health;
  3. Animal which is suffering from any disease which is certified by a Veterinary Officer authorized by the State Government as being contagious and dangerous to other animals;
  4. Animals certified for slaughter on the ground that it is suffering from an incurable disease or injury;
  5. Animals belonging to the Central Government in the Ministry of Defense, by a Veterinary Officer of the Indian Army; and
  6. Animals authorized by the State Government. and slaughtered by a Veterinary Officer.

 What is the punishment for illegal cow slaughter?

Conviction based on this act would be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

Conviction based on this act would be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

All offenses are cognizable under this act.  Abetment under this act or attempts would be punished in a similar way.

Powers of the Authorized person

The competent authority or any person authorized in this behalf by the competent authority (hereinafter referred to as the “authorized person”) shall have power to enter and inspect any premises where the competent authority or the authorized person has reason to believe that an offence of slaughter has been or is likely to be committed.  Each and every person in occupation of any such premises should allow the competent authority or the authorized person such access to the premises as may be necessary for the inspection and shall answer questions by the competent authority or by the authorized person.

 All persons exercising powers under this Act shall be deemed to be public servants within the meaning of section 21 of the Indian Penal Code. The authorized persons acting in good faith are protected under this act. No suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings shall be instituted against the competent authority or any person exercising powers under this Act for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act or the rule made thereunder.

 Implementation of the law

The State Government may, by notification, delegate its powers to any local authority or to any officer of the State Government. The State Government may also establish, or direct any local authority or society registered under the 1[Karnataka]1 Societies Registration Act, 1960, or any association or body of persons to establish institutions at such places as may be deemed necessary for taking care of cows or other animals sent thereto.  Those who take care of animals legally may levy such fees as may be prescribed for the maintenance of such institutions. The State Government may provide by rules for the proper management of such institutions for the care of cows or other animals therein and also for the class or variety of cows or other animals.

 The State Government may by notification, after previous publication, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act. In particular, such rules may provide for

  1. the powers and duties of competent authority
  2. the form of the certificate to be issued to allow legal slaughter
  3. the amount of the fee to be paid
  4. the conditions subject to which this Act shall not apply to any animal
  5. the management of Institutions established and the fee to be levied for their maintenance; and
  6. any other matter which is to be or may be, prescribed.

 The rules formulated by the state government has to be passed by each House of the State Legislature while it is in session for a total period of thirty days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if before the expiry of the session in which it is so laid or the session immediately following, and both houses should approve the rules.

 The State Government has the power of revision of the orders passed by the competent authority and can call for and examine the records of the case and may pass such order in reference thereto as it thinks fit.  Any order passed by the competent or by the State Government cannot be called in question in any court.

Also see Aseema November 2014 issue

Harmonizing Sharia Legal Systems

Uthman ibn Affan, third Caliph, ordered four of the best reciters among the Companions of the Prophet(Sahabah) to transcribe several copies of the manuscript of the Qur’an(Mus-haf), which was compiled into one manuscript by the command of Abu Bakr. When they finished Uthman sent a copy of the transcribed manuscript to every territory. He also ordered that any other versions of the Qur’an be burnt. This story about the present version of the Quaran is cited as a guideline for disposal of unusable copy of Quran in book form.

According to some, Quran may be disposed by wrapping it in cloth and burying on holy ground where it is unlikely to be trampled on or “safely” placed where it is unlikely to come into contact with impurity. According to an Arab source, Muslims are forbidden to recycle, pulp, or shred worn-out copies of the text; instead, burning or burying the worn-out copies is allowed. Some online discusssions suggest burning, wrapping in a clean piece of cloth and burying, or disposing in a flowing river as possible ways of disposing. Few others suggest using a shredder, where the papers of the copy are to be shredded so that the form of a letter cannot be seen. Some people suggest disposing in a trash but inside a black plastic trash cover so that it is not visible to others. The burying is not advised by some to avoid the text being walked on.

These contradictory views and actions aligned to them are intended to avoid descration. Desecration is defined in abstract terms as ‘dishonoring’ or ‘showing disrespect’. Since there are differing view points on the way of disposal, the desecration may not be easy to identify. The case of a desecration is determined based on intent behind the act rather than the act itself. So the same act of disposal may be a desecration is one situation and a non-objectionable disposal in anohter situation. Who decides this issue?

In a recent incident in Pakistan, a trash collector reported collecting pages of Quran from the trash disposed by the Christian couple. The trash was generated from the belongings of an elderly person of the house of the couple. The act of disposing Quran in trash was perceived as desecration either by trash collector who reported it to the Mullah of the mosque or by the Mullah of the mosque after receiving the report. While the act of disposing the Quran in trash is not a deciding factor, the reason that a case of desecration is suspected in this case needs analysis of intent. While, the trash collector and/or Mullah might have seen bad intent in the disposal, the Christian couple have denied such an intent from beginning to the end. So, there were contradictory view points. The views of the Mullah and/or the trash collector have been presumed to be conclusive and the views of the Christian couple have been neglected or rejected.  (Expecting couple were burnt by a mob incited by loudspeakers of a local mosque declaring them as “blasphemous” and saying they should be “killed”).

What were the other options for the Christian couple? Burn the Quran? Since, burning is not recommended by some, such an act could have been interpreted as desecration by another set of people, and the Christian couple would have landed in a similar situation. Burn inside the house? Burning secretly by a Christian couple is definitely would create more suspicion about the intent behind the disposal, if and when it is known to the outside world. What about the burial? Since there is a possibility of stepping on this or there could be some interpretations on the details of the burial that leads to a conclusion of bad intent. Even if the Christian couple handed over the unusable Quran or its pages to a Mullah for disposal, one may suspect desecration of Quran and an attempt to cover it up by submitting the torn pages to a cleric. A bad intent in the descreation of the Quran and a decenptive intent in reporting it to the cleric may be concluded.

The Pakistani law provides life imprisonment for the desecration of Quran. But, the mob punished the Christian couple by burning them after the local Mullah concluded about the desecration. The official courts did not hear this case and so according to the constitution of Pakistan the trial and burning is unofficial and illegal. So, there are two parallel legal systems in Pakistan. One managed by Muftis and Maulvis of local Mosques. The other one by the courts approved by the Constitution. Both follow Sharia law – but the working of the Sharia law is different in both cases.

The trial of desecration, thus remains problematic from the perspective of the non-Muslims. Non-Muslims are not able to get justice from the constitution of the country because before it operates, the Islamic law is applied on them. This is true in many other countries and in many situations, Muslims are also affected in a similar way. There are many way of resolving this difficulty. Firstly, as stated by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the rule of law is to be established in Pakistan with Constitution approved Sharia law superceding the Mosque implemented Sharia law.

There is another option.  The Sharia courts managed by local mosques and Mullahs may be recognised by the formal court system of Pakistan. Punishments of the traditional Sharia to be included as a possible option in the national legal system. Appeal system should be systematized to have a meaningful relook at the higher courts. Implementation of judgements from such a legal proceedings would be more meaningful.