CHAPTER III - ADMINISTRATION OF CATTLE LAWS
REASONS FOR NON-IMPLEMENTATION – WAYS AND MEANS TO COMBAT THE PROBLEM OF ILLEGAL SLAUGHTER, SLAUGHTER HOUSES, BEEF EXPORTS, CATTLE SMUGGLING AND EXODUS OF CATTLE TO BANGLADESH AND KERALA
1. A brief introduction of present cattle laws
2. Position regarding Implementation of existing Laws
3. Approach of political parties
4. Apathy of the bureaucracy
5. Unholy nexus between meat lobby, politicians and Bureaucracy
6. Lack of uniformity in State Laws
7. Illegal Inter State transportation
8. Growing violence against NGOs/Activists
9. More for leather and less for meat
10. Rampant Illegal transportation
11. The perilous policy of Meat Export
12. Baffling number of Animals Slaughtered
13. Violation of Cow Protection Laws – Synopsis of Questionnaire replies
14. Non-Compliance of Cow Protection Laws (Shri Kesari Chand Mehta)
16. Auction of Cows by temples (Smt. Gohar Aziz)
17. Part II of Committee’s Report (in Hindi Vol. III)
18. Suggestions/Recommendations of the Committee
ANNEXES OF CHAPTERS III
ANNEX III (1) List of Laws enacted by States & UTs
ANNEX III (2) Relevant provisions of IPC and other Acts
ANNEX III (3) Extract from Report of the Working Group on AH&D
ANNEX III (4) Extract from Report of Panel No. XI on Meat Sector
A Brief Introduction of present cattle laws
1. There is a complete absence of any specific Central laws, regarding the slaughter of cattle legislated by the Parliament of India, as the subject of Agriculture, including Animal Husbandry, is covered by the State List in the Constitution. Of course, the Constitutional provisions are there to provide Directive Principles and fundamental duties in the form of Article 48 and 51A respectively.
2. The Constitutional Provisions pertaining to the various aspects of the problem are briefly stated below.
Article 48 (Directive Principles)
2.1 This Article relates to the manner in which agriculture and animal husbandry should be organised, and has a special provision for taking steps for prohibiting the slaughter of cows, calves and other cattle. The Article, introduced as Article 38A after debate on an amendment motion presented in 1948 in the Constituent Assembly, reads as under:
“The State shall endeavour to organize 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.
Article 51A (Fundamental duties):
2.2 This Article in the Fundamental Duties Chapter of the Constitution, enjoins upon the citizens of this country to cherish the ideals, which inspired our freedom struggle (ban on cow slaughter being one, the first War of Independence having been triggered off by the Sepoy Mutiny, in which soldiers, led by Mangal Pandey, refused to open beef-coated cartridges with their mouth) and to have compassion for all living creatures. The Article reads as follows:
“ It shall be the duty of every citizen of India
(b) To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom”
(g) “To protect and improve the natural environment including forests and to have compassion for living creatures”.
Article 246 (Jurisdiction of Parliament and States)
2.3 Article 246 defines the jurisdiction of Parliament and State Legislatures in the matter of making laws and three Lists have been drawn up, the first relating to the powers of the Union Government, the second pertaining to the legislative powers of the State Governments and the third being the Concurrent List, where both Parliament and the States have powers to legislate. The Article 246 reads as under:
(1) Notwithstanding anything in clauses (2) and (3), Parliament has exclusive power to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in List I in the Seventh Scedule (referred to as the “Union List”).
(2) Notwithstanding anything in clause (3), Parliament, and subject to Clause (I) the Legislature of any State also, have powers to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in List III in the Seventh Schedule (referred to as the “Concurrent List”).
(3) Subject to Clause (1) and (2) the Legislature of any State has exclusive power to make laws for such State or any part thereof with respect to any of the matters enumerated in List II in the Seventh Schedule (referred to as the “State List”).
Schedule VII, List II – State List
14. Agriculture, including agricultural education and research, protection against pest and prevention of plant diseases.
15. Preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal diseases; veterinary training and practice.
Scedule VII List III – Concurrent List
17. Prevention of cruelty to animals.
28. Prevention of the extension from one State to another of infectious or contagious diseases or pests affecting men, animals or plants.
Article 249 (Power of Parliament to legislate with respect to a matter in the State List in the National interest.)
(1) Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this chapter, if the Council of States has declared by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest that Parliament should make laws with respect to any matter enumerated in the State List specified in the resolution, it shall be lawful for Parliament to make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India with respect to that matter while the resolution remains in force.
(2) A resolution passed under Clause (1) shall remain in force for such period not exceeding one year as may be specified therein:
Provided that, if and so often as resolution approving the continuance in force of any such resolution is passed in the manner provided in clause (1), such resolution shall continue in force for a further period of one year from the date on which under this clause it would otherwise have ceased to be in force.
(3) A law made by Parliament which Parliament would not but for the passing of a resolution under Clause (1) have been competent to make shall, to the extent of the incompetency, cease to have effect on the expiration of a period of six months after the resolution has ceased to be in force, except as respects things done or omitted to be done before the expiration of the said period.
3. In pursuance of the directive principle of state policy, as contained in Article 48 of the Constitution of India, most States have enacted laws in one form or the other, relating to the prohibition on slaughter of the cow and its progeny.
4. The list of laws enacted by the States and Union Territories is given at Annex III (1). It will be seen that, in some States there are exclusive cattle preservation laws, whereas in other States, Animal preservation laws have been enacted, extending protection to other animals also, including those belonging to the bovine species. Also, some States have specific Acts for prohibition of slaughter of cows, whereas others relate to preservation of agricultural cattle. In respect of the newly-created States of Jharkhand, Uttaranchal and Chattisgarh, the laws of undivided Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh prevail, as the new States are yet to formulate their own laws. Kerala is the only major State, apart from some of the North Eastern States, which does not have an Act with regard to slaughter of cattle.
Central Laws relating to prevention of cruelty to animals
5. There are certain provisions in the Central Laws in the matter of cruelty to animals, including cattle, such as Section 429 of the Indian Penal Code; The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960; Transport of Animals Rules 1978 and so on. The relevant provisions of these Acts and Rules are given in Annex III (2).
Committee on administration of cattle laws
6. At its first meeting, held on 13.8.2001 in New Delhi, the National Commission on Cattle constituted five Committees, indluding one which was required to go into the issues relating to implementation of the existing cattle laws and other related aspects, including illegal slaughter of cattle at licensed as well as unlicensed slaughter houses, the problem of meat exports, movement of cattle from one State to another for slaughter and so on.
7. The Members of the Committee, along with the other Members of the Commission, toured almost the entire country, covering all the State capitals as well as a few other major centres to hold public hearings and discussions with the Government officials of the States. On the basis of feed back received in such public hearings, as well as an in-depth study of the issues involved, the Animal Preservation Acts of the States and the material published elsewhere, the Committee has various observations to make and suggestions to offer. The status of present Cattle Preservation Laws, the reasons for their non-implementation and the problems that are faced in effective administration of the laws, with suggestions to plug the loopholes in the legislative and administrative provisions and procedures, are dealt with in this Chapter.
Position regarding implementation of existing Laws
8. The fountain-head of animal welfare in the country is Article 48 of the Constitution. Unfortuntely, this Article forms part of the Directive Principles of State Poplicy in Part IV of the Constitution and, as such, is not enforceable. Though it gives explicit directions to the Staes to prevent slaughter, in almost all the animal preservation laws of the country there are hardly ay positive directions about preservation and protection of the cattle. On the contrary, the Animal Preservation Laws sound more like slaughter manuals.
9. In the States where the cattle preservation laws have been enacted, the position regarding implementation of these laws is pathetic, as reported by various animal welfare organisations during the public hearings of the Commission. Most of the organisations reported that the laws exist only in statue books and they are observed more in breach. In almost all the States the meat trade has become a very strong lobby and has spread its tentacles over the administration as well as the law enforcing agencies. There is almost unchecked transportation of cattle for slaughter between neighbouring States and in some cases from one corner of the country to the other, especially to Bengal and Bihar for onwards smuggling of the cattle for slaughter into Bangladesh.
10. The Animal Welfare Board of India had commissioned a study about transportation of cattle through Bihar and Bengal into Bangladesh. The Study revealed that untold numbers of cattle are being transported in miserable conditions and exported to Bangladesh for slaughter, some remaining in West Bengal itself, where beef-eating and illegal slaughter of cattle is rampant.
11. In most of the States, during the public hearings held by the Commission, the animal welfare organisations reported that the law-enforcing agencies did not cooperate with them whenever they drew the attention of these agencies to the blatant violation of the State laws and illegal transportation and slaughter of cattle. On the contrary, whenever any animal welfare organisation takes some steps to apprehend the culprits, the State Administration, particularly the Police Department, sides with the violators of the law and oppresses the NGOS. There have been instances when animal welfare activists have been beaten up and put behind bars, though they have been trying to assist the State administration in proper implementation of the law.
12. Though illegal transportation and slaughter is the routine thing, the level of such activity rises substantially on the occasion of Bakri-Id every year. Though the authorities are aware that large scale slaughter of young and healthy animals in violation of the local laws takes place on the occasion of Bakri-Id, they turn a Nelson’s eye to such activities. They not only ignore the protestations of the NGOs, they threaten them with dire consequences on the pretext of not permitting the law to be taken in their hands. The request of the NGOs to set up or constitute Special Task Forces in the Police Department to check illegal transportation and slaughter is also not conceded by the State Administrations. Though no concrete proof could be furnished for obvious reasons, it was widely reported by the local NGOs that the local politicians have financial stake in the meat trade and as a result full protection is given to this activity.
Approach of political parties
13. Ignoring the strong economic reasons that should dictate preservation and protection of the nation’s cattle wealth, the protection of cattle has been given the colour of a religious issue, and the so-called ‘secular’ political parties, in order to exhibit their secular credentials, have gone out of their way to show total indifference to this issue and have not done anything to strengthen the legal situation or the implementation of the existing laws.
14. The Congress Party has been ruling the Nation during the better part of the last 50 years and, despite a nation-wide aspiration to have better animal preservation laws and their strict implementation, it has not accorded any seriousness to the issue. Two earlier Commissions appointed on this subject have submitted detailed reports making very sound recommendations. However, these reports are gathering dust in the Government archives. On the other hand, the report of the National Commission on Agriculture, which recommends higher and higher rates of slaughter, is being followed very religiously.
15. Similar is the case with the Communist-ruled States i.e. West Bengal and Kerala. The Communist governments are not at all sensitive to this issue and while Kerala has become a major centre of cattle slaughter in the South, West Bengal holds that position in North India and is also a very convenient gateway for smuggling of cattle into neighbouring Bangladesh.
Apathy of the bureaucracy
16. The bureaucracy negates all the efforts of animal welfare organisations to seek amendments in the State Laws to make them more effective and stringent. Defying, at times, even the political leadership and will, the bureaucracy stone-walls all such efforts.
17. A glaring example of this apathy is the total disregard of a Supreme Court order by the Government and administration of West Bengal. The West Bengal Animal Slaughter Control Act, 1950, vide Section 12, granted the State Government the powers to exempt from the operation of the Act, the slaughter of any animal for any religious, medicinal or research purposes. Under the shelter of this provision, permits were being issued by the authorities for slaughter of even cows on the occasion of Bakri-Id every year. The authority to issue such permits was given to the Municipal Authorities and more than one lakh young and healthy cows were being slaughtered in the city of Calcutta alone on the occasion of Bakri-Id. The number of cows slaughtered all over the State was much larger.
18. In a case filed before it in the year 1972, the Calcutta High Court, in a judgement delivered by it in 1982, held that the exemption was outside the scope of Sec.12 of the Act and was, therefor, dehors the statute and therefore the exemption order was struck down. The State Government and the other affected parties, all butchers, preferred an appeal before the Supreme Court, which granted a stay at the admission stage. The case was finally disposed of in 1994 (State of West Bengal & others versus Ashutosh Lahiri & others – AIR 1995 Supreme Court 464), with the apex court upholding the High Court’s judgement. It is unfortunate that it took 22 long years for this issue to be settled and, in the meantime, lakhs of young and healthy cows were slaughtered.
19. However, this was not the end of the matter. Despite the Supreme Court order, the West Bengal Government and administration did not take any effective steps for abiding by the Supreme Court order, except some cosmetic steps like advertisement in the local newspapers, appealing to the people to abide by the Supreme Court order. The blatant violation of the law, in contempt of Supreme Court judgement has continued since 1994 and any amount of follow-up action by the animal welfare organisations to persuade the State Administration have not achieved the desired results. On the contrary, the few peaceful agitators pleading with the administration for compliance with the Supreme Court order were rounded up and put behind bars on the occasion of Bakri-Id in the year 2002. An animal welfare organisation, viz. Akhil Bharat Krishi Goseva Sangh, founded by Mahatma Gandhi and nurtured by Acharya Vinoba Bhave, has been active in this field throughout the country and had to file a contempt petition in the Calcutta High Court against the West Bengal Government to obtain directions that the Supreme Court judgement be complied with in both letter and spirit.
20. Thousands of instances of government apathy were brought to the notice of the Commission, based on which it may be safely concluded that there is utter lack of political and bureaucratic will towards protection of cattle.
Unholy nexus between meat lobby, politicians and bureaucracy
21. Meat trade by itself is a very lucrative activity. Indian meat is considered to be of very high quality as it lacks fat content and if free from harmful substances, which travel to the animal body through the food chain. Not only the Indian meat but the leather of Indian cattle and particularly calf leather is in great demand in international markets.
22. A cattle purchased for slaughter at a price ranging between Rs. 500/- to Rs.3000/- can fetch as much as Rs.20,000/- after it is slaughtered and its meat, leather and other parts are sold. This high profitability has created very high stakes in the meat trade. It has increased the capacity of the meat lobby to spend lavishly in buying the co-operation of the Authorities. Though beef is not permitted to be exported, it is clandestinely exported, stamped as buffalo meat, and thus a very strong nexus between meat lobby, politicians and bureaucracy has come into existence. Policies are framed to promote meat trade, all sorts of encouragement, protection and a host of subsidies are provided to this sector and the booty is shared by all the three sectors of this nexus.
23. There has been no study of the economic benefits flowing from the cattle wealth of the nation. On the other hand the earning of the meat sector are touted in the media to promote and justify meat trade. The agricultural sector is the worst sufferer as a result of indiscriminate cattle slaughter. The cattle-based and organic manure-based agriculture has given way to mechanised and chemical fertiliser-pesticide-based agriculture, pushing the costs in the agricultural sector to unviable levels. The contribution of cattle in sustaining our agricultural operations needs to be appreciated and for that reason our cattle wealth need to be protected.
Lack of uniformity in State Laws
24. Various States have enacted their own cattle preservation laws. However, there is no consitency in these laws even on fundamental issues. Article 48 explicitly prohibits slaughter of ‘cows’ and hence most of these Acts have imposed a ban on slaughter of cow. However, despite the word ‘cows’ being used in plural in the Constitution, which ought to include the entire cow family, the State laws have separated the cow family into the female of the cow, a bull or bullock and the calf, according protection only to the female of cow (that too not in the State of West Bengal and Kerala) and other progenies of the cow family are made slaughterable.
25. Some of the Acts have defined calves, bulls and bullocks, whereas many of the Acts have not defined them. Even where definitions are there, there is no uniformity. As a result of the above ambiguous and different legal position in different States, the cattle get transported to neighboring and are slaughtered there.
26. A glaring example of the lacuna in the definitions adopted by different States in their respective legislation can be found in the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976. This Act does not define a calf. Normally the young one of the cow is a calf until it grows into an adult, acquiring the capacity for procreation, which is around the age of 3 Years. Thus, a young one till the age of 3 years should be considered as a calf and it is likewise defined in some of the State Laws also. However, in Maharashtra, in the absence of a clear-cut definition of a calf in the Statute, a calf is administratively (not legally) defined as a young one up to the age of one year. A bull or bullock is defined as the male progeny above three years of age. Thus, a calf between the age of one year and up to 3 years is neither considered a calf or as a bull / bullock and thus does not fall within any of the categories specified in the schedule of animals to which the Act applies. It thus remains out of the protective umbrella and is liable to be slaughtered. Thus lakhs of calves are slaughtered in Maharashtra mainly for their hides and skins, as calf-leather commands a premium price in international markets.
27. Hence, all the State laws need to be reviewed by a single agency to bring about uniformity in definitions and other provisions, so as to prevent illegal slaughter.
28. In addition, many of the State laws are silent as far as the provisions regarding burden of proof to be cast on the person from whom the cattle is seized. There are also no provisions regarding who should be the custodian of the cattle, when they are seized in a crime involving transportation for illegal slaughter, and who should bear the cost of maintenance when the seized cattle are given to animal welfare organisations. In some of the Laws, the penal provisions are decades old and are not deterrent enough to force strict compliance. This also needs to be strengthened.
29. In the absence of provisions regarding interim custody of cattle seized during pendency of trial for illegal transportation / slaughter, the animal welfare organisations have to always make an application to the Trial Court. In some cases, the custody is granted and in some others, it is not granted. In such cases, the organisations have to move the Higher Courts and some of the cases have gone even to the Supreme Court, where ultimately the Supreme Court granted custody. Akhil Bharat Krishi Goseva Sangh had published a compilation of such cases where custody had been granted to the animal welfare organisations. This compilation, covering a selected 24 cases up to 1995, covers cases of various States of which 16 cases reached High Court and 4 cases reached the Supreme Court. The cases in the Supreme Court are as under:
i) Criminal Appeal No. 555 of 1989 – Go Bachav Samiti, Nalkheda v/s State of Madhya Pradesh & Another.
ii) Civil Appeal No. 2521 of 1992 – Gopal Goshala, Neemuch v/s Goriya K. Banjara & Ors.
iii) S.L.P. No. 1609 of 1989 wtih C.M.P. No. 3267 of 1989 Madanlal v/s State of Maharashtra (2 Judge Bench).
iv) S.L.P.No. 1609 of 1989 – Madanlal v/s State of Maharashtra, (3 Judge Bench).
Thereafter also many cases have gone to Supreme Court, the latest being the State of U.P. v/s Mustakeem & Others (Criminal Appeal Nos. 283-287 of 2002).
30. In the absence of clear-cut provisions about custody in the law itself, the NGOs have to spend heavily in fighting legal cases up to Supreme Court, which puts pressure on their meagre resources, which could otherwise be utilised on maintenance of cattle saved from slaughter.
31. As stated earlier, the State animal preservation laws read more like slaughter manuals rather than laws to protect cattle wealth. They prescribe the procedure to be followed if the animals are to be slaughtered. As the criteria for slaughterable animals, these Acts either speak of age-based restrictions (no foolproof machinery exists to ensure implementation of age-based restrictions) or they provide the economic viability criteria, which is subjective in nature and certification is left to the sole discretion of the veterinary officer. These criteria are about the existing or future economic utility of the cattle, which is to be decided by the veterinary officers, who arbitrarily exercise their powers, almost invariably in favour of permitting slaughter. The stray decision to not certify an animal as fit for slaughter is subject to challenge by the meat trader, whereas the decision given in 99% of the cases to certify the animals to be fit for slaughter is not challenged by anyone. This is the height of arbitrariness.
Illegal Inter-State transportation
32. In view of the wide variation in legal provisions in various State laws, there is large-scale transportation of cattle from one State to another to take advantage of the legal provisions in the States where slaughter is permitted. For example, in Gujarat and M.P., which are neighboring States of Maharashtra, there are age restrictions on slaughter of bulls and bullocks (16 years in case of Gujarat and 15 years in case of M.P.). However, in Maharashtra, there are no age-based restrictions. Although in a legal case the State filed an affidavit in 1994 that it would prescribe age-based restrictions, this has not yet been done. The sole criterion, for deciding whether or not a cattle is fit for slaughter, is the prospects of economic viability of the animal, which is to be decided by a single individual, very subjectively and at his sole discretion. As a result, there is large-scale movement of animals from Gujarat and M.P. to Maharashtra for slaughter.
33. Similarly, there are restrictions in some of the State laws for transporting cattle out of the State for the purpose of slaughter. However, such transportation for agriculture or milching purposes is allowed. Taking advantage of these provisions, certificates are issued by the Competent Authorities (delegated to most incompetent persons in some cases), that the animals are being transported for agriculture. Such certificates are issued even for young calves, which are obviously not fit for agricultural operations or for milking. Thousands of animals from Rajasthan are transported with such certificates to Bihar and Bangladesh. The NGOs have been striving hard to check such illegal transportation and there are hundreds of cases instituted in local Courts, challenging such transportation. In a major case, three train-loads of young calves (aprrox. 5000 calves) were stopped from being transported by the butchers from Rajasthan to Bihar and U.P. and in a case instituted before the Rajasthan High Court (Writ Petition No. 6 of 2000), the Court quashed the permits granted for their transportation and passed severe strictures against the State Government machinery. Such cases are only the tip of the iceberg and there are unimaginable numbers of cases of transportation for illegal slaughter throughout the country.
34. During the public hearings in Rajasthan, the Commission was informed of large numbers of good breeds like Nagori bullocks being permitted to be taken to Bihar, ostensibly for agricultural purposes. However, when the Commission visited Bihar and Jharkhand, the Members were informed that the farmers in Bihar use only there local breed of Bachaur, which is a small animal for draught purposes. The members of the public stated that the farmers could not in any case afford to keep cattle of the superior breeds as they were poor. It is very obvious that the large numbers of cattle, sought to be transported to Bihar under false pretences, are actually taken to West Bengal and Bangladesh for slaughter. No checks are ever exercised by the authorities issuing the certificates and no verification is done to establish the bona fides of the persons actually buying the cattle. In one case, it was found that one certificate was given to one person for transport of 300 cattle-heads from Rajasthan to Bihar.
35. It may be mentioned that the supply of bullocks to the Deonar abattoir in Mumbai is mainly from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. All these States have imposed restrictions in their local laws on transportation of cattle for slaughter. However, bulls and bullocks are transported under certificates to the effect that they are being taken for agriculture. The authorities know fully well that no agricultural activity is carried out in Mumbai. Despite this, such certificates are issued and nobody in authority challenges them. Trainloads of bulls and bullocks were transported into Mumbai, until Akhil Bharat Krishi Goseva Sangh intercepted a full train carrying 600 bullocks at Vasai Road Railway Station on the suburban railway section of Mumbai, fought a legal case and obtained custody of these bullocks. Thereafter, transportation of bullocks by train to Mumbai has stopped. However, hundreds of trucks and tempos continue to bring bulls and bullocks for slaughter at Deonar abattoir in Mumbai from neighbouring States.
Growing violence against NGOs / Activists
36. The meat trade feels irked by the activities of animal welfare organisations / activists and not only have they become united in supporting the apprehended criminals, they have become increasingly violent to the extent of murdering the animal welfare activists. About 20 individuals have so far been killed in the last 5 years or so and hundreds have been assaulted and grievously injured. The glaring cases are those of Smt. Geetaben Rambhia murdered in broad-daylight in Ahmedabad; Advocate Lalit Jain of Bhiwandi in Maharastra shot dead at point blank range in the bustling market area at 11 a.m.; Prakashbhai of Deesa District in Banaskantha who was ruthlessly assaulted by a group of 4/5 butchers; one person, who was killed in Medta in Rajasthan; assault on the then General Secretary (now Working President) of Akhil Bharat Krishi Goseva Sangh, Shri Udaylal Jaroli of Neemuch; and, also, the assault on Shri Bharatbhai Kothari of Deesa, who fortunately survived after battling with a serious brain injury, sustained in the assault, for 4 months.
37. In one case in Azamgadh District in Uttar Pradesh, the Police party intercepted a gang of butchers, who were heavily armed and had a convoy of vehicles. When asked to stop, they defied the police order and tried to run away destroying barricades and firing on the police party. The police party had to alert the next police station to apprehend the offenders and, after crossing the area of jurisdiction of three police stations, the offenders were engaged in a gun battle with the police party on whom they fired sixty rounds. Seven bullocks in one of the trucks died of bullet injuries. This was one of the few cases in which the police authorities acted with commendable alacrity and determination. Detailed paper clippings of this incident are annexed as per Annexure-II collectively. There are hundreds of such cases of violence against animal welfare activists and the culprits are hardly apprehended or punished.
More for leather and less for meat
38. Killing of cattle nowadays is more for its leather rather than its meat. The annual leather exports from the country is valued at close to Rs.8,000 crores, whereas the value of meat exports is between Rs.1200 and Rs.1500 crores (targeted to rise to Rs.2000 crores). Thus, the revenue from leather is much more and, even if local or export market for meat is curtailed, the killings are likely to continue for the sake of the leather.
39. It is worth mentioning that the campaign of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which highlighted the cruelty inflicted on cattle during transportation for slaughter and the gruesome manner of slaughter, evoked world-wide objection to Indian leather and many large importers of Indian leather stopped importing leather from India. This disturbed the applecart of the leather exporters, who put pressure on the Government to issue instructions that cruelties are not inflicted on cattle. However, this was just a cosmetic action to appease the world-wide uproar.
40. The entire slaughter activity at Bharatpur in Rajasthan, and its surrounding areas, is for leather and not for meat.
Rampant Illegal Transporation
41. As stated earlier there is interstate transportation of cattle for slaughter to take advantage of loopholes or slack implementation in neighbouring States. There are numerous cases, in which animal welfare organisations and activists have intercepted such illegal transportation at the border check-posts between States. Many cases have been filed at Malegaon in Maharashtra, Vapi in Gujarat, Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh, Bhiwandi on the border of Maharashtra and in Haryana. For one occasional vehicle intercepted, hundreds are allowed to pass without any hindrance. The animal welfare activists have to brave the risks involved and work almost without the support of police department.
42. It is not that the authorities are not aware of the large scale smuggling of Indian cattle to Bangladesh. A report in a weekly magazine “The Week”, in its 15-6-1997 issue, described in vivid details the activities of smugglers of cattle. The report is reproduced hereunder:
Smuggling is the main occupation in Murshidabad
Idrish Aly has come a long, desperate way from egghead to a cowboy. After eight futile years of job hunting the bachelor of arts from West Bengal’s border district of Murshidabad recently became a cattle smuggler.
So have thousnads of other yeoug men in the district, where the mail lifeline is smuggling of human beings, aniamls, gold and essential articles. “Every day a thousand head of cattle are being smuggled out to Bangladesh,” said senior police officer of the district, which is infamous for sending children to beg in Mecca. :And there is no holiday in the smuggling business. The smugglers work all seven days a week.” That means more than 3.5 lakh animals are spirited away to Bangladesh every year.
The Bangladesh government apparently is quite happy a bout it for the country earns substantial foreign exchange by selling beef to other Muslim countries, particularly those in the Gulf region. Its beef industry is largely dependent on smuggled cattle from India, and a large number of transit cattle camps have come up along the border. The government also gains from the thousand rupee tax on every animal smuggled into the country.
The smuggling business is lucrative despite the tax. A cow that costs Rs. 5,000 in Murshidabad fetches double the price in Bangladesh, and the payment is is gold ingots, which the smugglers sell in India at a profit. There is very little risk involved: the Indian law enforcers, who generally turn a blind eye, become alert only when they count the bribes.
It is a smooth operation in which there is no haggling over the bribes. The rate isfixed – Rs. 1,000 per cow, bullock or buffalo – and the money is shared among the local police, men of the Border Security Force, and village politicians. All of them obviously consider human beings less valuable; those who smuggle in people from Bangladesh have to pay only Rs. 500 as a bribe.
The demand for Indian cattle is so great in Bangladesh that a large number of gohats (cattle markets) have come up all over Murshidabad, especially in villages near the international border. The Baharampur subdivision alone has 17 gohats, and the government has no control over the transactions except in three gohats where a permit is required to take the cattle within eight kilometres of the border.
One of the authorised gohats is in Beldanga, 20 km from Baharampur town, where nearly 3,000 head of cattle are sold every Tuesday. “ The business is worth Rs. 1.2 crore,” said Abhijit Mazumdar, licensing inspector of Beldanga’s regulated market committee, which issues the permit.
The permit costs just Rs. 4 per animal and helps the conniving BSF personnel get off the hook. “The permit business has become a recket,” said a district administrator. “People are being allowed to smuggle out hundreds of animals on the strength of one permit. Who can distinguish between two cows of the same colour?
The law enforcers extract their pound of flesh whether the cattle seller has a permit or not. “we have to pay the local price of Rs. 50 per cow and the BSF people Rs. 500, “ said Inrish, the graduate cattle smuggler. “And then at the last stage, the customs officials have to be bribed.” Yet it is good business: cattle account for Rs. 200 crore of the total smuggled wealth worth Rs. 1,000 crore.
In a ‘top secret’ note, the government recently admitted that the rampant smuggling of cattle was clearly on the increase. So is the smuggling of Bangladeshis into Murshidabad. “At least six lakh illegal immigrants from Bangladesh have taken shelter in the district in the last 16 years,” said a police officer. “It is very easy to smuggle in any number of people and the smugglers only have to pay half the bribe that cattle runners pay.”
Murshidabad, which has become a smugglers’ mecca, had 29.54 lakh people in 1981. By the next census six years ago the figure had risen to 47.40 and according to present estimates the population is around 52 lakh.
If the population has risen alarmingly so has the crime graph. The district registered as many as 147 murders in 1994, three dozen more the next year and 187 lat year. There has been no let-up; the first four months of the current year saw 55 murders. The number of dacoties, robberies and thefts has also increased manifold in the last two decades.
The rise in crime, particularly murder, is believed to be due to the population explosion in a small district; Murshidabad is just 5,324 square kilometers. “It you study the case reports of all these murders,” said a police officer, “You will find that a dispute over land or dowry was at the root of the problem. And in this district dowry is often a plot of land.”
The Beef Route: Cows from Beldanga may end up on an Arab plate
The massive influx from Bangladesh has inevitably altered the demographic profile of the district, where the Muslims now constitute nearly 70% of the population.
Perhaps Murshidabad is the only district in the country, besides those in Kashmir, where the Muslims have so overwhelming a presence.
The international border exists only on paper on most stretches and almost every family in the border villages has relatives on the Bangladesh side. Naturally it is quite easy for an illegal immigrant to find shelter on Indian soil. The host soon introduces him to the panchayat officials, who readily recommend a ration card for him, thus helping him pass off as an Indian.
It is because of the tremendous increase in population that smuggling has become the principal vocation of the jobless young men in Murshidabad. The district has no industry worth mentioning and the sudden scarcity of land has shattered its agrarian economy. “The smugglers are now controlling the economy of the districts,” said a politician. Almost everything is smuggled out of the district – rice, pulses, sugar, edible oil, kerosene, diesel.
As the government admitted in its “top secret” note, “ A large number of people in the border areas are directly or indirectly associated with smuggling.” The most porous part of the border falls in seven villages – Samsergunj, Suti, Raghunathgunj, Lalgola, Bhagawangola, Raninagar and Jalangi. Besides, there are 31 illegal ghats on the riverine border from where the goods are ferried to Bangladesh. Local politicians, police and BSF personnel get a cut of the profits.
The politicians have another reason for helping the smugglers of illegal immigrants: they can use the immigrants to strengthen their power base after getting them into the voters’ list. An the police and the BSF personnel abet the smugglers and thrive on bribes in the knowledge that the politicians will never turn against their vote banks.
“Every second house in our villages is a smugglers’ den,” said a school teacher of Baharampur town. “It appears that no one has any authority, moral or legal, to come out against smuggling. Some of the smugglers are members of panchayats and one smuggler was recently elected to the legislative assembly.” He has no doubt that politicians who are not smugglers are indirect beneficiaries of the most lucrative business in Murshidabad.
The change in the demographic profile, couple with the rising crime rate, in the border district may be fraught with grave danger. “ I have a feeling,: said a judicial officer, “that we are sitting on a powder keg.”
-TAPASH GANGULY in Beharampur
The perilous policy of Meat Export
43. India has been exporting meat and other livestock products since 1973-74. The annual exports were around 2000 tonnes in the year 1973-73, which increased to 60,000 tonnes by the year 1987-88 and now they are close to 3,00,00 metric tonnes. The Government patronage to this sector started in the year 1992-93, when the Congress Government under Shri P. V. Narasimha Rao declared meat exports a ‘thrust area’ for earning foreign exchange. Ever since 1992-93, the Government is aggressively pushing up meat exports, providing financial assistance, a number of subsidies and incentives, besides various administrative reliefs. The Government also set up an autonomous authority by an Act of Parliament in the year 1986, named the Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), which gives capital assistance and also helps Indian meat exporters in marketing their products abroad. Even when other industries were in the shackles of bureaucratic controls, meat exports were freed from licensing controls. A new Ministry called Ministry of Food Processing Industry was created by the Central Government to look after the needs of the processed foods industry, including meat processing.
44. Meat export has taken a heavy toll on the precious cattle wealth of the nation and has adversely affected cattle based agro economy of the country. For the record, it may be noted that ‘beef’ i.e. flesh of the cow family animals is so far on the negative list of exports under the Export Import Policy of the Government. (There was a suggestion at one of the meetings of the Working Group on Animal Husbandry, set up by the Planning Commission’s for the 10th Five Year Plan, to remove this restriction! Fortunately, this has not been actually recommended by the Working Group).
45. Though the Western countries rear animals specifically for the purpose of slaughter, Indian beef and meat is preferred abroad as it is low in fat and relatively free from poisonous chemicals. In Western countries animals are given growth hormone injections to increase their body weight for larger meat yield. They are also fed on non-vegetarian cattle feed made of abattoir waste. This has led to the occurrence of BSE or mad-cow disease, which can be transmitted to human beings through the beef they consume. This fatal disease has occurred in United Kingdom and other European countries, while India is free from this disease, as our cattle are not fed on the meat and bones of other animals. In developed countries, the cattle are also given heavy doses of anti-biotic injections to keep them disease free. Human beings who eat the beef become immune to the effects of the antibiotics and thus become prone to the infections, which these anti-biotics are meant to control. The feed and fodder given to the slaughter animals in these countries is grown with the help of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, the residues of which enter the bodies of the animals and form part of the meat. In addition, there is large expatriate population of Indians in Gulf countries who prefer Indian meat.
46. Once having declared meat export as a thrust area, the Government of India has not thereafter reviewed this policy in the past almost one decade, nor has it studied the adverse effects of this policy on the livestock population, availability and price of milk and the effect on agriculture and allied activities. The present Bharatiya Janata Party Government at the Centre, which was in opposition when the Congress Government declared the meat export policy had vehemently opposed it in the Parliament, as well as in public. It had given indications that, on coming to power, it will ban meat export from the country. In fact, in their National Executive meeting, in the year 2000, the Bharatiya Janata Party had given directions to the Government of its own Party to ban meat export from the country. Similarly, the Animal Welfare Board of India, an autonomous Body under the Government of India, had also recommended banning of meat export in its 67th Executive Committee meeting. In addition, the Law Commission of India in its 157th Report had also recommended banning of meat export from the country. Overlooking all these recommendations and suggestions, the Government has not yet taken any step in this direction, despite numerous representations, delegations etc. both from members of Public/NGOs/Animal Welfare Activists, as well as from some of its own Ministers and Party functionaries. Defying the wish of the entire nation, despite functioning as a democracy, the Government has been singularly immune to the demand for banning meat exports.
47. Under the Indian Constitution, Animal Husbandry is a State subject and the Centre has not enacted any law for preservation, protection or welfare of animals except that antiquated piece of toothless legislation called ‘Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960’. (The Government is also sitting tight on the proposal to amend this law for the last three years). The State laws enacted by various States are devised in such a way that they promote slaughter rather than curb it. The criteria made applicable for slaughterable animals are only on statute books and are rampantly flouted. In many Acts there are age-based restrictions for animals that can be slaughtered. In many cases such prescribed ages are between 12 to 16 years. However, there is an inherent contradiction between the legal situation and the demand of export markets. Export markets demand meat of young and healthy animals so that it is tasty and disease--free. The local laws permit slaughter of only aged animals. This contradiction is unbridgeable and the demands of the export market obviously prevail, whereby the country is loosing its productive, precious animals. The corruption bred on the sidelines is also unimaginable.
48. The Livestock Census is a quinquennial exercise and, every 5 years, the States are supposed to conduct the Census. The State figures are consolidated at the national level and the last such consolidated figures at the National level are available only for the year 1992. Thereafter, figures at the National level are not available and it is anybody’s guess as to what is the livestock population of the country. May be the population has dwindled so much that the Government is wary of publishing the figures! Nonetheless, under the direction of FAO, all Government documents start with the stereo-type rhetoric that India has the largest livestock population.
49. The value of meat exported from the country has been growing by leaps and bounds, as the following figures indicate.
Export of Meat and Meat Products from India
|Buffalo Meat||Goat/Sheep Meat||T o t a l|
Note : Quantity in M.T.; Value in Rs. Lakh, Total includes other meat products also besides buffalo meat and goat/sheep meat. Source : APEDA and Ministry of Food Processing Industry
The figures of total meat production (Quantity in M.T.) in the country are as under:
Source: `India’ Series publication of Govt. of India
50. Not satisfied with this indiscriminate slaughter of animals, the Planning Commission has grand plans to increase it further and convert the entire country gradually into a country of slaughter houses. In a Chapter entitled “Review of Past Performance and Assessment of Future Needs”, which is part of its Report, the Working Group on Animal Husbandry and Dairying, set up by the Planning Commission to prepare proposals for the 10th Five Year Plan, has reported that a ban on meat exports, as demanded by a number of organisations would not be in the interest of livestock producers nor in the national interest. An extract from the Report of the Working Group is at Annex III (3). The relevant extracts from the report of the Panel No. XI on the Meat Sector of the Working Group are given at Annex III (4).
51. The Working Group on Animal Husbandry and Dairying, which in turn formed 15 sub-Groups, including one on the Meat Sector. One would be horrified to read the report, which recommends an aggressive thrust to increase the slaughter rates, modernisation of existing slaughter houses, setting up more and more mechanised slaughter houses, removal of the impediments in the export of meat and recommends various steps in those directions ! One need not be surprised by these recommendations of the meat sector Sub-Group, because there were large meat-exporters as the Members of this Group, including the Chairman. The terms of reference of the sub-group are also worded with a heavy bias in favour of meat exports and read as under:
a) To critically examine the constraints affecting development of organised meat sector for sustainable animal production.
b) To suggest measures necessary for promoting meat exports.
c) To assess the policies presently in force and changes needed to meet global challenge.
52. The whole Report of the Meat Sector sub-Group goes against the campaign to ban meat export from the country and this has to be resisted lest it becomes part of the Plan itself. Meat exports have dealt a death- blow to the economy of the Nation to satiate the greed of a handful of people, with the tacit support, patronage and encouragement of the Government. This approach needs to be resisted tooth and nail, to force the Government to drop its plans in the field of meat export.
53. The chemical fertiliser lobby, the meat lobby and the leather export lobby have common vested interests and appear to have formed a cartel, which has a stranglehold on the Government and the bureaucracy. The hue and cry of the entire nation to ban meat exports is stone-walled by these powerful lobbies.
54. No comparative study has been made about the advantages and disadvantages of meat exports. In India, animals are reared primarily for the benefits derived from their dung. If the meat export policy is evaluated only on the basis of utility of dung, it would prove that banning meat export is more in the interest of the country than earning a thousand crore rupees of foreign exchange. This will be proved by the following analysis.
Some Startling facts about loss due to meat export
55. Considering the broad product-mix of export of meat (buffalo meat and sheep/goat mutton) in the project of M/s. Al-Kabeer Exports Ltd., it has been calculated that 67 lac buffaloes and 36 lac sheep/goats are required to be slaughtered annually, in order to meet the projected 10th Five Year Plan target of annual export earning of Rs.2,000 crores. Taking the calculations involved in study on Al-Kabeer, which are supported by information/statistics contained in official sources, the following calculations gives extrapolated figures for the increased number of animals to be slaughtered on the national or Macro level, during the 10th Plan period.
Economic Loss due to loss of Buffalo dung :
A total of 67 lakh buffaloes are required to be slaughtered for annual earning of Rs. 2000/- crores. Assuming that a buffalo could live for another 5 years before its natural death and that one buffalo produces 5.4 tons of dung per annum, then:
Availability of dung from 67 lakh buffaloes for a period of 5 years @ 5.4
tons/annum will be
= 67 lakh x 5.4 x 5 = 1809
Farmyard manure that can be made out of this dung will be= 1809 x 2 =
3618 lakh tons.
Land that can be cultivated using this farmyard manure will be 482.4 lakh
Foodgrains that can be produced on these 482.4 lac hectares of land will
be 666.68 lakh tons, without the major cost of chemical fertilisers.
The total value of foodgrains thus produced will be Rs.27,592.42 crores.
Fodder which can be produced as bye-product of the above foodgrain
production will be 20,000 lakh tons, sufficient to feed 555.57 lakh buffaloes
for a year.
The above quantum of foodgrains produced at substantially low cost can
meet the foodgrain needs of 37 crore human beings for a year.
Employment generation from dung of buffaloes
(An alternate advantage)
Wet dung available from 67 lakh buffaloes @ 5.4 tons/annum will be 362.40 lakh tonnes.
Dry dung available will be 181.20 lakh tonnes (taking 50% as loss of humus content and the portion of dung which is not collectable)
From 181.20 lakh tons of dry dung, 1812 crore dung cakes may be prepared (each weighing 1 kg.)
These dung cakes are saleable at prices varying from 25 to 50 paise each in villages and at Rs.1/1.50 each in towns. Even taking the lowest price (0.25 paise), the value of these dung cakes will be Rs.453 crore.
In villages, mainly women are engaged in collection of dung and selling the dung cakes. Taking Rs.250 per month as sustenance income for one woman in rural area for livelihood, she has to sell around 1000 dung cakes per month and 12,000 per year. So out of 1812 crore dung cakes, 15.10 lakh women can earn sufficient amount for their livelihood.
Employment generation from sheep
a) For the above product mix, and to meet the projected targets of export earnings, 36 lakh sheep are required to be slaughtered. Presuming that 18 lakh were male and 18 lakh were female, then milk yield from 18 lakh female sheep can provide employment to 72,000 persons (based on field study conducted by experts, it is found that one female goat can generate net income of Rs.120 p.a. and the same basis may be adopted for earning from female sheep. (Ref. wool and woollens of India, Jan. - Mar. 1993, page 30)
b) Wool available from 36 lac sheep will be 54 lac kg/annum @ 1.5 kg. per annum per sheep. Current prices of raw wool are Rs. 60 per kg. So total value of wool yield from 36 lac sheep comes to around Rs.32.40 crores, which is sufficient to provide employment to 1,08,000 (1.08 lakh) persons.
Thus total employment/livelihood generation from the animals to be slaughtered will be;
i) Employment from dung of buffaloes = 15.10 lakh
ii) Employment from milk of sheep = 0.72 “
iii) Employment from wool of sheep = 1.08 “
Total 16.90 lakh
Buffalo Dung as fuel (An alternate advantage)
If the entire quantity of dung which is available from buffaloes i.e. 362.40 lakh tons per annum is used to meet the fuel needs alone, then dry dung that may be available will be 181.20 lac tons in the form of dung cakes.
Presuming that 10 kg. of dung cakes can suffice daily fuel need of a family comprising 5 members, then 181.20 lac tons can provide fuel to 49.64 lac families per annum.
A family comprising of 5 members will need 1 cylinder /month i.e. 12 per year and the total cost will be 12 x 240 = Rs. 2,880 per annum. So 49.64 lac families will have to spend 49.64 lac x 2880 = Rs.1429.63 crores.
By-product of this fuel will be ash, which can be used for cleaning utensils. People have to spend around Rs. 200 p.a. on cleaning powders to clean utensils. Thus 49.64 lac families will have to spend 49.64 lac x 200 = Rs. 99.28 crores for cleaning powder.
Total Saving from using dung as fuel Rs.1429.63 crore
from using dung ash as cleaning powder Rs. 99.28 crore
Total Saving Rs.1528.91 crore
In the absence of L.P.G. or kerosene, villagers cut trees for their daily firewood requirement. Since dung of one buffalo per annum is equivalent to fuel obtained by cutting 6 trees, 67 lakh buffaloes will save 4.20 crore trees annually. The ecological advantage of this is incalculable.
Meat exports and water
As per the report of an export-oriented mechanised slaughter house, it requires 5 lakh litres of water /day for producing 5000 tons of meat p.a. Taking 300 working days, the total water requirement will be 1500 lakh litres for 5000 tons i.e. production of 1 kg. of meat requires 30 litres of water.
The annual meat production would be
67 lakh buffaloes x 75 kg. = 5.025 lakh tons
36 lakh sheep x 11 “ = 0.396 “ “
5.421 lakh tons
To produce 5.421 lakh tons of meat, the Nation has to squander 5.421 lakh tons x 30,000 litres = 1626.3 crores litres of water, which is sufficient for meeting annual drinking water needs of 90.35 lakh people (taking 5 litres per day as the average requirement of one person).
WHEN there is an acute drinking water shortage all over the country, as illustrated by the statistics of shortages of water in major cities of the country as shown below;
Availability as % of req.
(Ref. Times of India dated 14-10-1994 page 10).
WHEN villagers have to travel 5/10 km. daily to collect drinking water for their requirement,
WHEN our ground water resources are becoming scarce day by day due to over-exploitation,
WHEN there are inter-state disputes for sharing of river waters -
Is it in the interest of the nation to squander such large quantities of potable water for meat exports?
Dung as fuel
The utility of dung from the point of view of fuel will be clear from the following analysis also:
The frequent increases in administered prices of Petroleum products imposes a hefty burden and throws the nation’s economy and the budget of the common man out of gear. The Government is caught in a cleft stick by adopting the energy-intensive machine-based model of economic development. Its oil pool account is stated to be having a deficit of more than Rs.20,000 crores, even after repeated annual increases in the prices of petroleum products. Right from the Prime Minister to the petty officers of the Petroleum Ministry, no one really knows what to do. The chasing of deficit will be unending, even if petrol prices are raised to Rs.100 per litre or gas cylinder is sold for Rs.500/-! These sources of energy are unsustainable at any level of prices.
One has to look for the solution for this and the only solution is — cattle and cattle dung. If sufficient dung is available, the deficit of oil pool account can be wiped out in one single year. Shouldn’t it then catch the attention of the powers that be? It is magic, but a simple magic. A small calculation will exhibit the immense potential of utility of dung.
India has a population of 1000 millions, 70% of which live in rural areas, which means that there are 700 million people living in the rural areas of this country. Taking an average of 5 members to a family, this makes 140 million rural families. Due to non-availability of dung, these families use other types of fuel including LPG or fire-wood, which depletes our forest reserves. For the purpose of costing of fuel, let us presume that these families use LPG cylinders. On an average, a family of 5 needs one LPG cylinder per month. At the revised rates, an LPG cylinder costs Rs.250/-, which means annual expenses of Rs.3000/- and for 140 million families it will mean Rs.4,20,000 millions or Rs.42,000 crores. If only dung was available to all these families for making dung cake fuel, the nation would be relieved of financial burden of Rs.42,000 crores and will not that wipe out the deficit of oil pool account, will that not save our forest reserves from dwindling? The above working is based on the subsidised rate of Rs. 250/- per cylinder. There is yet a subsidy burden Rs. 150/- per cylinder on the Government even after the latest price rise. If this was to be considered it would relieve the subsidy burden on the Government by Rs.25,200 crores.
It is not contended that the entire Indian population uses LPG cylinders as cooking fuel. The LPG cost is taken to indicate the fuel cost for cooking and to show the potential of dung cakes which can be freely available at the door step of the rural user.
According to the report of Fire Wood Study Committee appointed by the Government of India, 85% of extraction of wood from the forest is for fuel. Protection of the forests would protect soil from erosion, resulting in non-siltation of river beds and dams, resulting in less of floods and storage of water for longer period, providing water for thirsty humans and cattle throughout the year and so on. The list of advantages is endless.
56. Coming back to the starting point, this propitious circle (as against the vicious circle of petroleum products) can start with the starting point of protecting and preserving our cattle and cattle dung which needs in the first phase, banning of export of meat from the country; and in the second phase reduction in conspicuous consumption of meat within the country. Given the political will, this is a simple task. However, mired in partisan politics, vote banks, the giant financial stakes vested in the fertilizer, leather and meat lobby, this is a gigantic task. The choice before the people is clear — whether they want to continue to bear the ever increasing burden to pamper the vested interests and the politicians or whether they want to become selfish and see their interest in preserving cattle and thereby cattle dung?
Conflict of meat export policy with Constitutional obligations
57. Apart from the above economic analysis once the Constitutional obligation of the ‘STATE’ towards living creatures, particularly, livestock population is understood, on the touchstone of the Constitution, a few relevant questions arise in respect of existence, growth, or modernisation of slaughter houses with increased capacities of killings per hour, or otherwise, for the Meat Industry as a ‘trade’, particularly by the ‘State’ by sanctioning, promoting, protecting and nursing the export sector for the sake of foreign exchange needs.
First, it is to be realised that catering to the economic ambitions of a few in the trade, or earning small foreign exchange for a certain period is no compensation to irreversible situation that the Country might face in terms of its National animal wealth, and cancerous attack on the ecological base and cultural system, which cannot be retrieved at any cost. That means that Country should be prepared to pay a heavy price in the long term for small gains in the present, sought to be had by nursing growth of Meat Sector, for export as well as domestic business.
Second, even if we concentrate on the existing Constitutional provision of freedom of occupation, trade or business, Clause (6) of Art. 19(1) empowers the ‘STATE’ to impose reasonable restrictions to the exercise of this right in the interest of general public. The power inherent in the State, itself does not permit the ‘STATE’ to cater to the needs of Meat Industry, when it is not in the interest of general public. Obviously, as discussed, hereinbefore, the patronising of Meat Industry cannot be in the larger interest of the public in the long run. It follows, therefore, that any trading activity, which is not in the interest of general public, can even be totally banned. Even ‘State’ itself is under no obligation, whatsoever, to provide Meat Industry by extending the facilities of Slaughter House. In Supreme Court Judgements also it is held that at all event, the interest of a small class must yield place to larger interest of society, as a whole.
Third, can Municipal Slaughter House, vested and managed by the Boards, Municipalities or Corporations, as executive instruments of the State, allow the citizens to exercise freedom of trade and business, in a manner, which throttles and violates the citizen’s Fundamental Duty in the Constitution to have compassion for living creatures? The rule of Harmonious Construction will negative such an exercise of freedom of trade.
Fourth, whether freedom of occupation, trade or business, itself gives rise to freedom to kill any animal or any number of animals? What is the trade or business activity in the act of taking life out of an animal without returning anything back to animal kingdom, in consideration; if all business or trade has its basis in one or other consideration?
Fifth, the freedom in this regard, availed by people in the slaughtering business, is destructive of the Environment and an epitome of destructive relation of man with animals, who cannot reason out with man. Today’s Public Policy of Law to protect Environment by defining environment legally, clearly negatives the freedom so far availed.
58. The government is protecting its policy of meat exports taking recourse to the untenable argument about fundamental rights of the butchers. This issue also has been legally settled in a judgement of the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court, known for delivering a series of bold judgements. It has added one more feather in its cap by this Judgement. Though running in just two pages, the Court has delivered a landmark judgement, which answers a very vital question, the answer to which was long awaited from the judiciary — Can killing of animals i.e. taking away the life of an animal be protected as a fundamental right under Chapter III of the Constitution of India? In very clear terms, the Hon’ble Court has said ‘NO’. This ‘No’ has been supported by sound arguments and legal provisions. The Hon’ble Court has observed as under:
“The Court is of the view that the Constitution of India does not permit any citizen to claim that it is his fundamental right to take life and kill animals. A butcher may have his profession but he cannot claim it as a fundamental right by the Constitution. Otherwise, it will be a negation of the tenets of our Constitution. The Constitution of India has a chapter on Fundamental Duties. This is Chapter IV-A. Article 51A(g) ordains “compassion for living creatures”.
Thus, the Court is unable to persuade itself that butchery as a profession can be claimed as a fundamental right of a citizen. That a butcher may slaughter and make a business of it is one aspect of the matter, but, the State can regulate this business”.
The judgement puts a Judicial Stamp on the view that — “Killing of Living Creatures is Unconstitutional”
59. Apart from the above observations there is an analysis on the relevance of fundamental rights as far as the activities of killing of animal is concerned. The meat export Policy of the Government and its active all-out support also flies in the face of the fundamental duties contained in the Constitution. The fundamental duties under article 51A enjoins upon the citizens to show compassion towards all living beings. If this provision is interpreted in its true spirit no one can indulge in the trade of killing of animals, much less the export of meat.
60. The argument of the Government about this sector being a major foreign exchange earner is also no longer relevant or compelling. Our country now has a comfortable foreign exchange reserve of more than 54 billion US dollars and a foreign exchange earning of a 1000 or 2000 crores of rupees from meat export is too insignificant to vehemently hold on to this disastrous policy.
BAFFLING NUMBERS OF ANIMALS SLAUGHTERERED
61. India’s economy is based on agriculture and Animal Husbandry. The eternal cycle of Van Raksha, Bhu Raksha, Jal Raksha and Pashu Raksha is the back-bone of sustainable economy, ensuring a decent and dignified life for even the poorest of the poor. In this background, our animals, particularly the bovine animals (cows and buffaloes) and sheep and goats are to be considered our national wealth, to be preserved, protected and expanded. Unfortunately, this sector has fallen in neglect. The faulty policies of the Government in Agriculture and Animal Husbandry sector have dealt a death-blow to both these sectors. The policy of using chemical fertilisers has spoiled the soil fertility, turning it into barren lands and the policy of cross-breeding has made many of our breeds almost extinct.
62. Apart from these indirect blows, there is direct destruction by way of unfettered slaughter. This activity now enjoys State patronage, protection and active encouragement. There are about 4000 authorised slaughter-houses in the country and more than 1,00,000 illegal slaughter houses. The meat export policy of the Government had added fuel to the fire. Let us analyse and interpret some published statistics.
63. In the year 2000-2001, about 2,88,000 M.T. of buffalo meat was exported (Source: Reply to question No. 3313 in Lok Sabha on 10-12-2001) and the Government claims that this is just 4% of the meat produced in the country (Source: Reply to Question No.1112(H) in Lok Sabha on 23-11-2001), which means that the total buffalo meat production in the country is 72,00,000 M.T. A grown up buffalo yields 75kg. of meat (out of average body weight of 300 kg.). Thus for obtaining 72 lac M.T. about 9,60,00,000 buffaloes are slaughtered!
64. This figure is ridiculous, as the total buffalo population of the entire country was 7,59,66,000 in 1987 and 8,42,06,000 in 1992 according to the census figures published by Directorate of Economics & Statistics, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. It is intriguing that no census figures at the National Level are available after 1992 and the Meat Export was given a major thrust after 1992 only. What has been the impact on bovine population after 1992 (after the aggressive Meat Export Policy) is anybody’s guess.
65. Anyway, it is quite evident that what is described as buffalo meat is not buffalo meat alone and large numbers of cattle are slaughtered and there is clandestine beef export also, though described as Meat Export. This is corroborated by further analysis.
Take the figures of cattle. The cattle population in 1987 & 1992 was
The absolute increase over a five-year period is 48,88,000, which is 2.44% over five years, or annual growth rate of 0.48%, or say just half a percent per annum!
The female cattle population in 1987 was 9,87,63,000. It can be safely presumed that at least 50% of this population was in the reproductive age-group, which is 4,93,81,500. The bovines bear a calf once every 15 to 18 months. Even if we consider calving period of 20 months, three calves would have been added over a period of five years (60 months) that would have meant an addition of 4,93,81,500 x 3 that is to say 14,81,44,500. Even if we consider infant mortality of as high as 50%, the net addition should have been 7,40,72,250.
At least on statute books, there is restriction of slaughter of calves and young bulls/bullocks (by virtue of age-based restrictions and/or economic viability based restrictions). Thus all these 7,40,72,250 young cattle of up to 5 years of age should have been added to the cattle population of 1987. Thus the 1992 population should have been 19,96,95,000 + 7,40,72,250 = 27,37,67,250. As against this, the 1992 population was only 20,45,83,000. The shortfall of almost 7 crores cannot be attributed merely to natural death of cattle over 5 year period. Thus it is clear that there is large-scale slaughter of cattle both for indigenous consumption and clandestine exports of beef.
66. Thus it is now clear that the annual slaughter figure of 9,60,00,000 buffaloes worked out earlier is not only that of buffaloes, but also includes (by way of major component) the slaughter of cattle, specially of younger age-group.
67. This situation concerns every common man of the country. The situation on the legal front is, to say the least, pathetic. Laws with deliberately-kept lacunae, almost total neglect about their implementation or rather active support of implementing agencies, absence of Central Legislation, active and continued thrust in the Five Year Plans on increasing slaughter, the implications of W.T.O. Agreement etc. are all factors which contribute to the continuing and unabated slaughter of cattle in this country, and serious thought is needed on all these issues to devise methods for overcoming this huge problem.
Violation of Cow Protection Laws – Synopsis of findings from questionnaire replies
68. 91 answers were received in reply to the questionnaires sent out by the Commission, most of them being from the District Veterinary Officers. Three Collectors and two Superintendents of Police have also answered. The main questions and answers relating to implementation of the State laws with regard to cattle protection and preservation have been analysed and the findings are as follows:
1) Question: How many licensed or unlicensed slaughter houses are working in your are and how many cattle are slaughtered?
On an analysis of the answers to this question, it is revealed that northern States of the country do not have any slaughter houses, in which any kind of cattle is slaughtered. Southern States have licensed slaughter houses including big abattoirs, such as Deonar abattoir in Mumbai and Al-Kabeer in Hyderabad. It is found that Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are the exporters / supplier states of cattle to Gujarat and Maharashtra. Thousands of cattle reach up to Kerala. The District Veterinary Officer of Hassan (Karnataka) affirms that, in 2000-2001, 5678 old and unproductive bulls/bullocks and 1834 cattle below the age of 15 years were slaughtered. District Veterinary Officer of Gadag (Karnataka) has given a figure of 4634 cattle over 15 or under 15 years of age. DVO of Kannur accepted that slaughter of bullocks is continuing but has not given the number. He has quoted from the sample survey conducted by the State Government and stated that in Karnataka, 774 slaughter houses are licensed and there exists a number of illegal slaughterhouses also. In 1997-98, 4,15,000 cattle were slaughtered in the State in licensed slaughterhouses. District Collector of Palakkad (Kerala) agreed that 2000 cattle are slaughtered per month in his district. All other Authorities give some figures of licensed and unlicensed slaughterhouses but stated categorically that no cattle is being slaughtered, only goats, sheep and buffaloes are being slaughtered.
2) Question: Is illegal transport of cattle taking place within and outside the State. What are the usual routes and numbers of cattle thus transported?
Collector, Dhar (M.P.) accepts that such transport is taking place and stated that 100 cattle per year are illegally transported and some cases were also registered by the police in his District. District Collector, Vellore (T.N.), accepts that from Valajapeth to Chennai, illegal transport is going on. District Veterinary Officer of Hassan (Karnataka) agrees that cattle are transported to Kerala for slaughter.
3) Question: What is the inclination of people in your area for a total ban on cow slaughter?
Most of the authorities agreed that the people are inclined in favour of a total ban on slaughter of cow and its progeny. Livestock Development Officer, Sholapur, contends that people will like a ban on slaughter of cow only. DVO of Hassan (Karnataka) stated that different gropus have different views.
District Veterinary Officer of Palakkad (Kerala) stated that the majority of the public is against such a ban. DVOs of Nagapattinam and Vellore stated that people are not in favour of such a ban. Authorities of Leh (J&K), Cachar (Assam), Ernakulam (Kerala), Kasareagode, Kannur (Kerala) and Palakkad (Kerala) stated that their people were against the ban on cow slaugter. The concerned officer of Kannur District in Kerala has remarked that 90% of the people of Kerala are non-vegetarians and if the ban is inflicted it will create troubles.
4) Question: Is it correct to state that calves in large numbers are purchased in cattle fairs and are transported in trucks to other States for slaughter?
It is accepted by officials in Raipur (Chattisgarh), Dhar (M.P.), Kannur and Palakkad (both in Kerala), Kota (Rajasthan), Kangda (H.P.) and Koraput (Orissa) that calves in large numbers are purchased but they are carried in herds of 40-50 animals on foot and not by trucks.
5) Question: Is the observation correct that cattle-fairs are organised now-a-days, to facilitate the butchers?
Officials in Raipur (Chattisgarh), Uttarkashi (Uttaranchal), Allahabad (U.P.) and Kannur (Kerala) accepted the truth of this observation. In Kannur, Srikakulam specifically mentioned that mostly butchers attend these cattle fairs and that the same sets of cattle traders are seen in different fairs.
6) Question: Are the over-burdened police reluctant to take any action against cattle offenders?
Authorities from 29 Districts confessed to the truth of this situation. Others have not accepted it, probably because it goes against their own competence and willingness to take action.
7) Question: Do the police in your area refuse to register F.I.R.s against cattle offenders?
No authority has accepted this accusation of inaction or indifference.
8) Question: Are cattle transported to other States through Railway and / or Road transport.
Apart from Allahabad (U.P.) and Sagar (M.P.), no other authority has accepted that cattle are being transported through Railways. The officer from Allahabad agreed that one railway rake was seized. At Sagar (M.P.) also, on rake was seized. Authorities of Vellore, Kangda, Dhar, Hammirpur (HP), Kannur, Bagalkot (Karnataka), Palakkad (Kerala), Bulandshahar (U.P.), Allahabad (UP), Jalore (Rajasthan), Sasar (Haryana), Cachar (Assam) and Raipur (Chattisgarh) accepted that cattle were being transported within and outside their States in trucks.
Officials of Bulandshahar agreed that calves were loaded in large numbers in trucks, with 40-50 calves in one truck being seen some times. Kannur officials accepted that, in 1997, a total of 2,82,566 cattle had come to Kannur in trucks from other States. The position was the same in Palakkad (Kerala).
Authorities of Allahabad stated that cattle were daily going to other States through GT road, although the number per day was only 200. Jalore officials stated that cattle are exported to Ahmedabad in Gujarat from Raniwada and Disa, through Hirapur and Sanchor. District Collector of Bulandshahar (UP) agreed that thousands of cattle are transported by trucks but that, according to information, these animals remain within the State.
9) Question: Is the Government Administration vigilant or indifferent about implementation of cow preservation laws?
Almost all the authorities stated that they are vigilant, but some veterinary officers and officials from Veterinary Universities sated that, some times, Police authorities were indifferent.
10) Question: Is any disciplinary action taken against Police authorities for negligence in implementation of cattle protection laws?
The officials from Allahabad stated that on Inspector, Kuldeep Tiwari, was transferred from Daraganj for his dereliction in this regard. None of the others have answered this question.
11) Question: Are huge numbers of cattle being loaded into trucks, in violation of the stipulations of the Prevention to Cruelty to Animals Act and Rules made there under with regard to transport of cattle?
The Bulandshahar authorities agreed that calves in huge numbers are cruelly loaded by cattle traders. Allahabad official accepted this observation and stated that there is one Kureshi Suyed Ajhmed, who is having a regular transport agency for such illegal transport of calves. Collector of Jalore (Rajasthan) accepted that 235 cattle are transported from his District to Ahmedabad (Gujarat) by the cattle traders of Gujarat, on a regular basis.
Compliance or non-compliance of cow protection laws (contributed by Sh.K.C.Mehta)
69. Although the laws regarding the prohibition of slaughter of cow and calf have been made by almost all the States, except Kerala and North Eastern States, but the compliance of these laws have not been enforced by the States and enforcing agencies like Police and District Administration.
70. The list of prevalent laws enacted by the States with regard to prohibition of slaughter of cow and its progeny would reveal that, there is a complete prohibition on all slaughter in Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and U.P. However, in all other States, except West Bengal and Assam, while the slaughter of cow and calf is completely prohibited, the slaughter is permitted of old, infirm and uneconomic bull and bullocks, after obtaining the certificate from the Veterinary officer concerned.
71. In Assam and West Bengal, not only bull, bullocks but cows over 12 years of age can be slaughtered, after getting a certificate from the Veterinary doctor.
72. There is complete absence of law with regard to slaughter of cattle in Kerala and North Eastern States. In Kerala, there are Panchayat laws, which are defunct and are not being observed, while in some of the North Eastern States, there are some circulars, which are again not being implemented.
73. The laws, even in Sates which do have cattle protection laws, are being mostly violated on account of powerful meat and butcher lobbies, cattle trade mafia and their collaboration with police and administration. This is happening in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and West Bengal etc. The Mewat area in Haryana, which is inhabited by minority community Mews and the bordering areas of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, such as Mathura, Alwar and Bharatpur, is a paradise for beef traders. Here mass killings of cows takes place illegally and openly in small villages, mostly in areas between 2 hills or sometimes even in the houses in the villages. A survey conducted by Acharya Baldevji gives a very alarming picture, where thousands of cattle have either been taken for smuggling or are butchered.
74. The list of total number of challans put up District-wise, shows that, in Feralpur, in 2001, 15 challans were filed and about 500 cows and calves were either butchered or taken for smuggling. The names of the accused are mostly that of Mews. In another police station, Nuh, 26 challans were filed and the number of cows and calves is about 600 and all the accused persons are Muslim butchers or Kasais.
75. Similarly, in Thana Hadel, 15 challans were filed and about 400 cows, calves and bulls were seized. All accused are Muslims. In Nagina police station, 34 challans were filed and 600 animals were involved, the accused belonging to Mews or Muslim community. In Punhana, 36 challans were filed, the number of animals involved being 1000 and again, the accused are Mews and Muslim butchers. Hanahathin accounts for 23 challans, with about 300 claughtered bulls, bullocks, cows etc. and the accused again being Maives or Kasais.
76. In Mewat area of Mathura and Alwar, one Shri Sukhdev Singh was killed by the butchers. The Animal Welfare Board of India has given the Posthumous Prani Mitra Award to Shri Sukhdev Singh.
Auction of Cows by Temples
77. As pointed out by Smt. Gohar Aziz, Member, National Commission on Cattle, temples in our country are donating cows and calves as “Prarthana”. In Tamil Nadu, there has been a very condemnable action of auction of such cows, which are bought by the butchers. The temples, which own vast extents and areas of land, should maintain the cows within their temple complexes and their Goshalas, rather than auctioning them, knowing full well that the auctioned cows will land up under the butcher’s knife. Since most of the temples are under Government run Trusts, there should be a policy banning the auctions of the cows and calves.
78. Smt. Aziz has also suggested that, any legislation for ban on slaughter must also contain a clause banning transportation for slaughter or for trades. A true and real census of livestock must be conducted to know the growth or decline in cattle numbers. Goverment must institute national awards for local breeders and good Goshalas. Smt. Aziz also feels that working bullocks in the Municipality areas, Panchayats, Town Panchayats and Corporations must be given retirement with pension, and should not be auctioned for slaughter after they can no longer work.
Part II of the Committee’s Report
79. Shri Udai Lal Jalori, Consultant for the Committee on Administration Cattle Laws has prepared a detailed report (in Hindi), which is included in Vol. III of this Report, on the instances of flagrant and blatant violation of the cattle laws in the various States. He has given a thorough analysis, along with the details of the dates and name of persons involved in the instances. Of course, the actual number of such incidents are too large for all of them to be recorded, but the cases have been cited just to show the extent of the problem. Unless all sections of society, including members of the public, farmer owners of cattle, non-governmental agencies and Government agencies, especially the enforcement agencies, get together and join hands with each other to implement the laws of the land, even as they stand today, much of the problem and suffering of the cow and its progeny will be mitigated.
SUGGESTIONS / RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE
1) The Government of India must enact a Central Legislation for protection of cattle wealth and totally prohibiting its slaughter. The inclusion of the subject of animal husbandry in the State list is not a impossible hurdle to overcome. This issue should be considered as an issue of vital national interest and rising above politics, the Parliament must enact a Constitution amendment to bring the subject in the Concurrent List to enable the Parliament to enact the law.
2) In the meantime, all the State laws should be studied by a Central agency (if possible by the Law Commission) and they should suggest amendment in laws to bring about consistencies in definitions and other provisions. The provisions regarding definitions, scope, burden of proof, cognizability of the offence, penal provisions etc. should be made uniform. The arbitrary powers given to the Competent authorities (which are mainly veterinary doctors) should be withdrawn and some other arrangement must be thought about.
3) The Home Ministry should direct the States to constitute special squads in the Police department to check illegal slaughter, illegal transportation within the States and outside the State, particularly to Kerala and West Bengal. They should be directed to extend full support, co-operation and protection to animal welfare activists. They should also be directed to immediately register FIRs, institute legal cases and ensure their speedy disposal, so that the culprits are punished as per law.
4) In many State Acts there are a number of exemptions from the main provisions imposing complete / partial ban on slaughter. The exemptions are used more as rule and the very purpose of the legislation gets defeated. Hence any type of exemptions should not be provided in the Act.
5) Special arrangements to check smuggling on the boundaries with Bangladesh in the East and Pakistan in the West (Gujarat / Kutch borders) should be made. If necessary a section of BSF or Army may be entrusted with this responsibility.
6) The Government should impose a total ban on meat exports, which alone can check slaughter of cattle for clandestine export of beef in the guise of buffalo meat.
7) Express provisions for granting custody of cattle, which are seized while being taken for illegal slaughter, to the animal welfare organistions must be made in all the State laws together with provisions for payment of maintenance charges to these organisations.
8) Booking of cattle for transportation for any purpose by railways must be completely banned. The high cost of road transportation will act as some impediment to illegal transportation for slaughter.
9) The Government should come out with provisions in State laws for confiscation of vehicles (trucks/tempos) used by the meat traders for illegal transportation of cattle. Similar provisions for confiscation of vehicles, used in theft / smuggling of forest produce, exist in forest laws.
10) The Transportation of Cattle Rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 should be strictly implemented and, even otherwise, the implementation agencies must be strengthened and oriented to the need for cattle preservation.
11) The penal provisions in the State laws as well as in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act should be more stringent with higher fines and longer terms of imprisonment. There should also be a provision for automatic review of acquittal orders of the Lower Courts by a superior court.
12) Temples should not be permitted to auction the cows and calves received as ‘gifts’ or ‘donations’ from devotees.