The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government on Monday tabled an amendment in the Assembly for the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 2021, to allow inter-district transportation of cattle for agriculture and animal husbandry, PTI reported. The changes also sought strict implementation of punishments for violators of the law.

The amendments were introduced over four months after the law to regulate the slaughter, consumption and transportation of cattle was passed in the Assam Assembly. The law had earlier banned the transport of cattle from and through the state without documents and prohibited sale of beef within a five-kilometre radius of temples.

However, transport of cattle to any district with an international boundary will not be allowed.

The Assam Cattle Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2021, was presented to the House by Industry and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary on behalf of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on the first day of the Assembly’s Winter Session.

The Bill also calls for strict punishments for violation of the law, for which it has proposed new provisions regarding the investigation procedure, PTI reported.

In the legislation passed in August, violations of the law by any individual were punishable with a jail term of up to eight years and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh.

The new Bill seeks to empower an investigating officer to seize property documents of the persons or their family members, who have breached the law. The property of the accused persons, which has been acquired six years before the case was registered, can be attached by the officer.

“Provided that the burden of proving that the property so attached or seized has not been illegally acquired through sale or transportation of cattle in violation of any of the provisions under this Act, shall be on the person affected,” the amendment to the Bill said, according to India Today.

The state government said that if the Bill became a law it would be able to issue permits to agencies and farms registered under the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department for the transport of cattle for trade and animal husbandry.

The government also proposed to cancel the provision in the principal Act, which prohibited the slaughter of cattle except on certain occasions when “slaughter of cattle, not being a cow or heifer or calf” was permitted.