The Lakshadweep administration has become the latest to join the beef ban bandwagon. The island administration, led by former BJP leader Praful K. Patel, has proposed to introduce a law that calls for a complete ban on slaughter of cow, calf, bull and bullock, in addition to prohibition of sale, storage and transportation of beef or beef products in any form.
The draft of the Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, 2021, which has been placed for public consultation till March 28, has raised eyebrows in the Muslim-majority Union Territory. Beef is consumed widely by the island population.
"The draft is against our fundamental right. This has been clearly communicated to the administration. I will be meeting Home Minister Amit Shah today to raise the issue. I'm almost certain that the draft has been published at the interest of the governor (Administrator) without consultation or consent from the local representatives or the home ministry," said P.P. Mohammed Faizal, lone Lok Sabha member from Lakshadweep. He cited that this was one of the multiple instances where Praful Patel, the administrator who is the equivalent of a governor in the Union Territory, was trying to bring in changes without any sort of local consultations. Faizal was also referring to the introduction of a Goonda Act in the island that has close to nil crime rate.
The NCP MP plans to take legal recourse if the draft on cow slaughter ban takes the shape of law.
The MP also discussed the issue with Animal Husbandry Secretary of Lakshadweep, Damodhar A.T., who signed the draft. "He assured that people's opinion will be taken into consideration before going ahead with the law," the MP told THE WEEK.
“However, Damodhar told me that he signed the draft without noticing the word "bull" in it," Faizal added.
The IFS officer, on the other hand, denied the claim and said the draft was only a first step towards "animal conservation" in the islands. "Every process has to begin somewhere. Proper consultation and all opinions will be taken into consideration. Due process will be followed before a final decision is taken," Damodhar said.
What is in the draft regulation?
The draft of the Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, 2021, proposes a total ban on slaughter of cows, calves (male and female), bull and bullock.
The draft also proposes to ban beef and beef products. "No person shall directly or indirectly sell, keep, store, transport, offer or expose for sell or buy beef or beef products in any form," the draft reads. It adds that any vehicle or conveyance, used to transport beef or beef products, will be liable to be seized by the officer appointed for the same and it shall stand forfeited to the Union Territory. A person who is found guilty of these provisions will be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, but shall not be less than seven years and with fine which may be extended to Rs 5 lakh but shall not be less than Rs. 1 lakh.
The draft also mandates that certification from a competent authority would be required for the slaughter of any animal. Anyone found guilty of violating the said provision will be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to imprisonment for life, but shall not be less than 10 years and with fine which may extend to Rs 5 lakh but shall not be not less than Rs 1 lakh, the draft says.
Usually, relevant changes are made to the draft taking into consideration comments from the public. In case of centrally-administered Union Territories, the draft becomes a law after it is discussed and passed in Parliament or after cabinet circulation.