The Haryana government has approved an amendment to its cow protection act, allowing police officers to seize and inspect vehicles used for smuggling of cows or beef, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.
The existing Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015, prohibits cow slaughter, trafficking and sale of beef in the state. Earlier, only officers of the sub-divisional magistrate rank and above were only allowed to seize vehicles used to smuggle cattle.
A meeting of the state Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar approved the amendment to the Act on Tuesday to make it “more stringent and practical”, reported the Hindustan Times. The new bill will be called the Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
“…Any police officer not below the rank of sub-inspector or any person authorised in this behalf by the government…may enter, stop and search any vehicle used or intended to be used for the export of ‘cows or beef’,” reads the amendment.
If the law is amended, officers can seize cows or beef along with vehicles suspected of violating the Act. “Provided that before ordering confiscation of the said vehicle, a reasonable opportunity of being heard will be afforded to the owner of the said vehicle,” it said.
According to the amednment, a police officer of the rank of sub inspector or above will have powers to search any property used or intended to be used for cow slaughter, seize the animal or beef, and collect evidence from the spot.
The Bharatiya Janata Party government had enacted the cow protection law soon after coming to power in the state in 2015. Under the law, anyone found guilty of cow slaughter faces rigorous imprisonment ranging from three years to 10 years. Those found guilty of exporting cows for slaughter face three to seven years of imprisonment and a fine, while those found selling beef face up to five years in jail.