Karnataka: High Court issued Notice Against Ordinance Banning Cow Slaughter

Such a ban as seen in other states poses a great economic and exacerbated social threat to farmers and cattle traders.

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In a recent development around the ordinance issued against cow slaughter, the High Court has issued a notice to the state government citing the ban as unconstitutional.

The Karnataka High Court issued a notice to the Karnataka Government on a PIL challenging the constitutionality of the recent ordinance to ban the slaughter of cattle except buffalos above the age of 13. The PIL was filed by Mohammed Arif Jameel against the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Ordinance, 2020, signed by the governor on jan 6th.

According to the petition, the ordinance violates the right of people to choose their food (coming under the Right to Liberty), and added that many in Karnataka consume beef regularly. It added that beef is eaten by Dalits, Muslims, those from the North East, as well as by Keralites and Mangloreans. The petition also mentioned how the ordinance violates Article 19(1) (g) of the constitution which allows for trade and businesses subject to specific restrictions as mentioned in clause 6 of the Article. It is also in violation of Article 21 which deals with the Right to Livelihood.

A State Divisional bench Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum issued the notice to the state government. Rahamathulla Kothwal, who appeared as the advocate for the petitioner, mentioned how, with the rules around the ban being extremely vague and almost absent, a large number of farmers and cattle owners will be prosecuted. Even a farmer who simply takes his cattle from his farm to another, can come under prosecution and can even be arrested under Section 13. The Advocate General (AG) has given assurance to the High Court that the state government is currently engaged in the process of formulating rules, which will be announced on January 18th.

Such a ban as seen in other states poses a great economic and exacerbated social threat to farmers and cattle traders. The emboldening of cow vigilantes and mob lynchings of those suspected to be trading cattle could very well occur in Karnataka as it has in states where similar bans have been introduced.

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