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This article is written by Anubhav Anand, from Symbiosis Law School, Noida. This article talks about the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill 2021, its features, and its possible impact.


The Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021 was approved by the State Cabinet and tabled by Himanta Biswa Sarma, the Chief Minister of Assam in the State Assembly during its budget session. According to Himanta Biswa Sarma, The Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 lacks sufficient legal provisions to regulate slaughter, consumption, and transportation of cattle and thus it was vitally important to enact new legislation.

This article will discuss the purpose and the features of the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill. Other states with similar laws will also be discussed in this article. This article will also focus on the controversies surrounding this bill and how the misuse of the Cow Protection Bill in Uttar Pradesh holds any meaning to it.

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Purpose of the Bill

The purpose of this Bill is to protect cattle from – 

  • Unregulated slaughtering
  • Unregulated consumption of meat
  • Illegal transportation
  • To check cattle smuggling to Bangladesh

If this Bill is passed, it would repeal the Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 where consumption of beef was not an offense. 

Salient features of the Bill

The features of this Bill are –

  • No person can slaughter a cattle unless he has received a certificate in writing from the registered Veterinary Officer. No certificate will be issued unless the Veterinary Officer thinks that – 
  1. The cattle is over fourteen years of age and is not a cow.
  2. The cattle is not a cow or calf or heifer and has become incapacitated from work or breeding due to accidental injury or deformity.
  • If a cattle is killed by accident, then it will not be considered as slaughter under this Act.
  • Transport of cattle from Assam to other states where the slaughter of cattle is not regulated by law and from one state to another through Assam is banned if there is no valid permit.
  • No permission is required if the cattle are to be transported for grazing, agricultural, and animal husbandry purposes. No permission is required for carrying the cattle to and from the registered animal market for the purpose of purchasing and selling such cattle within the district.
  • Sale, exposure for sale, and purchase of beef and beef products in any form are prohibited except at places where it’s permitted to do so by the competent authority. No permission shall be granted in areas where it is predominantly inhabited by Hindu, Jain, Sikh, and other non-beef eating communities. No permission shall be granted within a radius of five kilometers of any temple, satra, or other religious institutions belonging to the Hindu religion.
  • Every animal market committee of recognized animal markets must issue proof of sale and purchase of animals in the prescribed format to the purchaser and maintain a proper record for inspection by the competent authority. If any animal market fails to comply with this, their license and registration will be canceled and the person responsible for such non-compliance will be barred from entering the market and fined after they are provided with an opportunity of being heard.
  • A police officer not below the rank of sub-inspector or a registered veterinary officer or any other person authorized on this behalf by the state government will have the power to enter and inspect any premises within the local limits of his jurisdiction if he has reason to believe that an offense under this Act has been or is likely to be committed. The owner of the premises must allow access and answer any question asked to him. Any material or carcasses or cattle or vehicle or conveyance will be seized which have been or likely to be used in the commission of the offense, from the inspected premises and the person who is suspected of committing this offense may be detained. 
  • After the seizure, the police officer must report such seizure without unreasonable delay before the judicial magistrate 1st class. The expenditure incurred on the maintenance of the seized cattle will be recovered from such persons as prescribed in the rules. The seized cattle may be handed over to an institution established under Section 20 of this Act or a gaushala, after a value assessment by the animal husbandry and veterinary department.
  • If a person contravenes any of the provisions under Sections 5, 6, and 7 of this Act shall be held guilty of an offense which is punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 3 years and may extend to 8 years and with fine, which shall not be less than 3 lakh rupees and may extend to 5 lakh rupees or with both. The trial court may, for reasons recorded in writing, impose a lesser punishment than the minimum prescribed penalty after considering facts and circumstances of a case and after hearing the public prosecutor on the question of sentence. If a person, who after conviction of an offense under this Act, is again found to be guilty of an offense under this Act, then he will receive double punishment of what is prescribed in the Bill for his second offense.
  • In spite of anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure(CrPC), 1973, all offenses under this Act will be non-bailable and cognizable.
  • If a person abets or attempts to commit any offense punishable under this Act, will be punished with the punishment provided in the Act for such offenses.
  • All veterinary officers and other people exercising power under this Act will be deemed as public servants within the meaning of Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).
  • If a person does anything in good faith or intends to do it, then no suit, prosecution or legal proceedings shall take place against that person.
  • This Act will not be applicable to a cattle – 
  1. Whose slaughter has been certified by the veterinary officer and is necessary for the interest of public health.
  2. Which is going to be slaughtered because it is suffering from a disease which according to the veterinary officer is incurable or infectious or contagious and dangerous to other cattle.
  3. Which is going to be slaughtered on religious occasions and is not a cow or calf or heifer.
  4. Which is being operated upon for vaccine lymph, serum, or for any research or experimental purpose at an institution that is established, recognized, or conducted by the central or state government.
  • An institution including gaushalas may be established to take care of cattle.

Other states with similar laws

Other than Assam, states such as Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, etc. also have similar laws that protect cattle.

Madhya Pradesh 

According to the Madhya Pradesh Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act, 1959,

  • The slaughter of agricultural cattle is prohibited unless a certificate is issued by the competent authority of the area where the cattle is to be slaughtered stating that the cattle are fit to be slaughtered. 
  • There is a prohibition on the transport of agricultural cattle for slaughter. 
  • The sale and purchase of cattle, which are going to be or there is reason to believe that it is going to be slaughtered,  is not allowed.
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Uttar Pradesh 

According to the Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955,

  • The slaughter of cows is prohibited. 
  • But in the case of bulls or bullocks, if a certificate has been issued, then its slaughter may be allowed. 
  • This Act is not applicable to cows that are suffering from any contagious or infectious disease and which are under experimentation. 
  • After the slaughter of such cows, information should be lodged in the nearest police station within 24 hours and the carcass of the cow shall be buried or disposed of in a prescribed manner. 
  • This Act also prohibits the sale of beef and beef products in any form except for medical purposes.

Andhra Pradesh 

According to the Andhra Pradesh Prohibition of Cow Slaughter and Animal Preservation Act, 1977,

  • This Act prohibits the slaughter of cows or calves of she-buffalo.
  • The competent authority can enter and inspect premises if they have reason to believe that the offense has been committed.
  • If a person contravenes the provisions of this Act, he may be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or a fine which may extend to one thousand rupees.
  • If a person abets or attempts to commit an offense punishable under this Act, then he will be punished with the punishment provided for such offense in this Act.


According to the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Ordinance, 2020,

  • Slaughter and sale of cattle are not allowed.
  • Transportation of these animals within the state and outside the state is also restricted.
  • If the competent authority is under the belief that an offense has been committed, the cattle and the premises used or intended to be used can be inspected and seized.


According to the Orissa Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1960

  • Slaughter of cows and bulls or bullocks is not allowed but in the case of bulls or bullocks, a certificate can be issued by the competent authority which certifies that it is fit for slaughter.
  • This Act is not applicable to cows, bulls, or bullocks that are going under experimentation or suffering from a contagious or infectious disease.
  • The government may charge fees for keeping uneconomic cows in institutions established by them.
  • A person will be liable for a punishment of imprisonment for a term of a maximum of two years or a fine of a maximum of a thousand rupees or both if he contravenes the provisions of Section 3 of the Act.

Controversies related to the Bill

Debabrata Saikia, who is the leader of the opposition, pointed out the problems in the Bill. He said that a stone can be laid anywhere and be turned into a temple which makes the 5-kilometer rule about beef very ambiguous. He also said that this may lead to communal tension.

The opposition is not happy with this Bill and plans on pushing for amendments. Aminul Islam, who is the all India united democratic front legislator, said that this Bill was not made to protect or respect cows but rather hurt the sentiments of Muslims and create differences between communities.

Meghalaya will also face difficulties because of this Bill as this Bill would ban the transportation of cattle from the other parts of the country. Even though the Bill has not been passed yet, the entry of cattle has been banned in Assam. According to Meghalaya’s Khasi Jaintia butcher association General Secretary Generous Warlarpih, beef is becoming a rare commodity in Guwahati. There are complaints of shortage of meat by those who sell beef in Guwahati and Shillong. Meghalaya imports 90 percent of its meat from other states through Assam. This Bill will affect the supplies and cause a rise in the price of beef.

Misuse of Cow Slaughter law in UP and what it means for Assam

The High Court of Allahabad has pointed out that Uttar Pradesh’s Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act is being misused against innocent people. Recovered meat is being declared as beef without even getting it examined by the forensic laboratory and in most cases, it’s not even sent for analysis. A person who has been accused may be in jail for a crime he has not even committed. Whenever it is shown that cows have been recovered, no proper memo recovery is prepared and it remains unknown where the cows have gone after recovery.

Goshalas do not accept old cows or non-milking cows and they roam around on their own. Some owners leave their cows to eat garbage and drink sewer water after milking them. The cows on the road also become a problem for the traffic as a number of deaths have been reported due to them.

According to the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, gaushalas will be established to take care of cattle. But it is not mentioned whether old cows or non-milking cows will be accepted or not. Thus the future of such cows in Assam is uncertain which is the same in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Also, a proper seizure report is to be presented to the Judicial Magistrate First Class without any unreasonable delay. The seized cattle will be handed over to an institution established under Section 20 of this Act or a gaushala. Thus, there will not be any uncertainty regarding the whereabouts of the cattle after their seizure.


This Bill focuses on protecting cattle from illegal slaughter, transportation, and consumption of beef in Assam. The provisions mentioned in the Bill are almost similar to the provisions mentioned in cow protection bills of other states and all of them share the same goal and vision.


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