NEW DELHI: In a departure from past practice in dealing with politically sensitive issues in BJP states, President Pratibha Patil gave her assent to the Madhya Pradesh Prohibition of Cow Slaughter (amendment) Bill 2010 meant to raise the quantum of punishment for offenders and shift the burden to prove innocence to accused.
The amended Bill – Madhya Pradesh Govansh Vadh Pratishedh (Sansodhan) Vidheyeal 2010 – was sent for Presidential assent last year. In the past, the Centre has been chary of clearing “hindutva related” issues referred by BJP ruled states.
Under the amended Bill, which is the improvised version of the existing Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act 2004, the punishment for cow slaughter will be at least a year and maximum seven years along with fine of Rs 5,000. Earlier, the punishment for such an offence was three years of imprisonment or fine of Rs 10,000 or both.
The amended legislation has also made the provision of punishment for offences like storing or transporting beef with a minimum term of six months, which can be extended up to three years.
The 2004 law had not spelt out any minimum jail term for such an offence, making it possible for offenders to get away with their crime by paying stipulated fine. Besides the BJP-ruled MP cow slaughter and storing or transportation of beef are currently banned in other states likeGujarat, Chhattisgarh and J&K. Officials, privy to the development, said the MP Bill had got Presidential assent as it was just an ‘amended legislation’ unlike the Karnataka Bill which was a newly drafted legislation that was passed by the state Assembly only last year.