3 Arrested for Beef in Jorhat: But Under What Law?
GUWAHATI: Three persons including a minor returning home with half-a-kg of beef have been arrested on the outskirts of Jorhat town of Assam. The police said the two men were arrested on Tuesday (5th April) for hurting religious sentiments, as that is the allegation on them in the FIR lodged by someone Mridu Pawan Bora who is well known in that locality as an active BJP supporter.
The arrests that were made will raise many legal questions for the police. Though three persons were arrested and charged under the Cattle Preservation Act of Assam, 1950, Assam police would have done better to have read the Act once again. None of the sections in the Act criminalizes possession or consumption of beef. The Act merely lays down the conditions under which a cattle can/can't be slaughtered, and conditions under which the Act will not be applicable. In fact the whole Act not even mentions the word “police” for once.
The men were arrested while allegedly cooking half kilogram of beef in their temporary hut at a construction building. How does cooking at one’s own home hurts religious sentiments of others is a big question.
The "Hindutva" agenda which is already on the rise in the entire country is being imposed in the North east also. Seizing power in Assam with the help of the regional party AGP and manipulating the anti Bangladeshi sentiments in Assam has given fillip to that. But after coming to power the new BJP state government of Assam is trying to give citizenship to selectively Hindu refugees from Bangladesh through the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. But that has created a big hue and cry in Assam. Because if an estimated three million Bengali Hindus who entered Assam after the 1971 civil war from erstwhile East Pakistan are granted citizenship, it will jeopardise the very existence of Axomiya as a linguistic community and will permanently alter Assam’s land holding, employment and demography.
Later on when a mob gathered on the occasion of a public Meeting at the call of Nikhil Bharat Bangali Udbastu Samannay Samiti (NBBUSS) attacked All Assam Students Union office at Silapathar in Dhemaji District the issue of granting citizenship on religious basis got another momentum. The connection between Subodh Biswas, President of NBBUSS and BJP leaders also got exposed in the mean time. The anger among the people of Assam was so much that Government finally arrested Subodh Biswas just before the by election in Bhemaji. It seems after that the RSS parivar came out with their real agenda of Hindutva by bringing cow politics to Assam.
In the recent Jorhat incident the police said they will check whether the slaughterhouse has a license or not. Then why arrest the three men before even the basic check. Only in very few heinous crimes arrests can be made before verifying. And carrying beef from an allegedly un-licensed shop does not qualify as such in Assam. Under the Assam Cattle Prohibition Act no one can be arrested for possession of beef.
The Assam Cattle Prohibition Act (full text below) states that it is only legal to slaughter cattle in the place specified by the authority and if the cattle is over 14 years of age. Moreover the Act doesn't talk about slaughter houses, it talks about places of slaughter under the jurisdiction of the veterinary circle. That means if a person has a certificate s/he can slaughter it at the residence also..
The charges placed on the three arrested person are section 5, 6 nad 8. Section 5 is about “Prohibition of slaughter of cattle without certificate” ; Section 6 is “Prohibition of slaughter of cattle in places not prescribed for the purpose” Section 8 is about what penalties can be charged if Section 5 or 6 is violated. So its all about slaughtering rather than carrying or eating.
More importantly Section 4 and Section 7 rely on Veterinary Officers to implement the Act, not police. A certificate from A Veterinary Officers is needed before Slaughtering a cattle and Vatenary Officer can not provide certificate if
(a) The cattle is over fourteen years of age; or
(b) The cattle has become permanently incapacitated from work or breeding due to injury, deformity or any incurable disease.
Section 7 of the act give “Power to enter and inspect premises” to Veterinary Officer if “he has reason to believe that an offence under this Act has been or is likely to be committed”. No Veterinary Officer has been brought under question before or After the Incident.
It is Mentionable that Section 13 of the act give Power to grant exemptions to the State Government for any religious economical medical research or any other purposes. The Act also mentions that “operation of this Act will not be applicable to slaughter of any cattle on the occasion of Id-ul-Zuha”. Moreover the same law define “Cattle” means 'Bulls, bullocks, cows, calves, male and female buffaloes and buffalo calves"
Though unlike Central Indian BJP ruled states, open cow politics is not launched in Assam or North east but the inner current of “Hinduttav” and Sanskritisation of tribal people do exist and growing in fact. Though officially BJP has have decided not to ban beef in other northeastern states and goa and the basic premise of BJP/RSS politics is divisive and that truth does not remain hidden always.
|The Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 |
(Assam Act 13 of 1951)
Published in the Assam Gazette, dated 25th April, 1951.
[An Act] to provide for the preservation of certain cattle by controlling the slaughter thereof Whereas it is expedient to provide for the preservation of certain cattle by controlling the slaughter thereof;
It is hereby enacted as follows :
1. Short title, extent and commencement. - (1) This Act may be called the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950.
(2) It extends to the whole of the State of Assam.
(3) It shall come into force on such date and in such areas as the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint in this behalf.
2. Application of the Act. - This Act applies to the cattle specified in the Schedule.
3. Definitions. - In this Act unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context-
(i) "Cattle" means an animal to which this Act applies;
(iii) "Prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under this Act;
(iv) "Veterinary Officer" means a person appointed as such or invested with the powers of a Veterinary Officer under Section 4.
4. Appointment of certifying officer and Veterinary Officer. - The State Government may, for the purpose of issuing certificate under sub-section (1) of Section 5, by notification in the Official Gazette appoint-
(b) any person to be the Veterinary Officer for any local area or invest any person with all or any of the powers of a Veterinary Officer in such area.
5. Prohibition of slaughter of cattle without certificate. - (1) Notwithstanding anything in any other law for the time being in force or in any usage to the contrary, no person shall slaughter any cattle unless he had obtained in respect thereof a certificate in writing signed by the Veterinary Officer for the area in which the cattle is to be slaughtered that the cattle is fit for slaughter.
(2) No certificate under sub-section (1) shall be issued unless the Veterinary Officer is of the opinion (which shall be recorded) that-
(a) the cattle is over fourteen years of age; or
(b) the cattle has become permanently incapacitated from work or breeding due to injury, deformity or any incurable disease.
(3) Any person aggrieved by the refusal of the Veterinary Officer to issue a certificate under this section may, within fifteen days from the date of communication to him of such refusal, appeal to the prescribed authority against the order of refusal, and the prescribed authority may pass such orders thereon as he thinks fit.
(4) The prescribed authority many at any time for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the legality or propriety of any action taken under this section, call for and examine the record of any case, and may pass such orders thereon as it thinks fit.
6. Prohibition of slaughter of cattle in places not prescribed for the purpose. - No cattle in respect of which a certificate has been issued under Section 5 shall be slaughtered in any place other than a place prescribed in this behalf.
7. Power to enter and inspect premises. - (1) For the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this Act, the Veterinary Officer or any person authorised by the Veterinary Officer in this behalf, shall have power to enter and inspect any premises within the local limits of his jurisdiction where he has reason to believe that an offence under this Act has been or is likely to be committed.
(2) Every person in occupation of any such premises as is specified in sub-section (1) shall allow the Veterinary Officer or the person authorised, as the case may be, such access to the premises as he may require for the aforesaid purpose and shall answer any question put to him by the Veterinary Officer or the person authorised as the case may be, to the best of his knowledge and belief.
8. Penalties. - Whoever contravenes any of the provisions contained in this Act shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or with both.
9. Offences to be cognizable. - Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898), all offences, under this Act shall be cognizable.
10. Abatements and attempts. - Whoever abets any offence punishable under this Act or attempts to commit any such offence shall be punishable with the punishment provided in this Act for such offence.
11. Officers exercising powers under this Act to be deemed to be public servants. - All Veterinary Officers and other persons exercising powers under this Act shall be deemed to be public servants within the meaning of Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860).
12. Protection of persons acting in good faith. - No suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding shall be instituted against any person for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act or the rules made thereunder.
13. Power to grant exemptions. - The State Government may, by general or special order and subject to such conditions as it may think fit to impose, exempt from the operation of this Act the slaughter of any cattle for any religious economical medical research or any other purposes:
Provided that the operation of this Act will not be applicable to slaughter of any cattle on the occasion of Id-ul-Zuha festival on such conditions as the State Government may specify regarding privacy.
14. Delegation of functions. - The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, delegate to any officer of the State Government all or any of its powers or functions under Section 13.
15. Power to make rules. - (1) The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules to carry out the purposes of this Act.
(2) In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power such rules may provide for-