Gandhinagar : The Gujarat assembly on Friday made its anti-cow slaughter law the toughest in the country with the offence now becoming non-bailable and punishable with a life-time in jail.
The Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 2017, was passed with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's brute majority and the opposition Congress remaining suspended from the house for the entire day on the last day of the Budget session.
Moving an amendment, Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja said: "During this auspicious occasion of Chaitri Navratri, the government, on suggestions of many sadhus and sants, has made amendments to the Gujarat Animal Protection (Amendment) Act, 2011. This is the harshest law in the country."
The new law provides for financial penalty from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for such a crime.
"If anyone is found to illegally keep or transport a cow, the new Act has provision for 10 years' imprisonment and minimum of 7 years in jail and a fine of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh," Jadeja said.
There is also provision for permanent seizure of vehicles used for transportation of animals for slaughter as against the earlier version which allowed only impounding of such vehicles for six months.
The minister said that the state government would "strictly" implement the new law. "Earlier it was a bailable offence and legal provisions were relatively mild. This did not act as an efficient deterrent for those committing this heinous crime," he added.
Explaining the rationale for a tougher law, Jadeja said several religious saints and leading citizens had in the past petitioned the Chief Minister for making a stricter law for cow protection.
"Cow is symbol of Indian culture. Cow protection is not only about religious sentiments but also is of great economic benefit to our society," he said.
The state government has also put curbs on transportation of cows in the state during night hours. Even the legal, licensed movement of cattle would not be allowed between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m.