New Delhi: The Madhya Pradesh cabinet on Wednesday approved changes to a law to make cow vigilantism a punishable offence. The state proposed a jail term ranging from six months to three years for those who engage in violence against anyone charged under the anti-cow slaughter act.
The state chief minister Kamal Nath’s cabinet has cleared an amendment to the anti-cow slaughter law passed by the previous BJP government to include the above provision as well as a fine ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000.
According to a report in the Indian Express, additional chief secretary of animal husbandry Manoj Shrivastava said the punishment will increase to a minimum one year and maximum five years if a mob is involved in the violence. In the case of repeat offenders, the jail term will be doubled.
The amendment will also include a provision to punish those who damage property of those charged under the anti-cow slaughter law and punishment of a jail term of one to three years for those who abet cow vigilantism.
Once the legislation is brought in the state assembly’s monsoon session starting July 8, Madhya Pradesh would become the first state in the country to legislate against cow vigilantism.
The amendment to the anti-cow slaughter law comes a month after three Muslim youth, including a woman, were beaten by gau rakshaks over rumours of carrying beef in Seoni, Madhya Pradesh.
In February 2019, the newly-elected Congress government in Madhya Pradesh had slapped the stringent National Security Act (NSA) against three men accused of killing a cow at Khandwa.
In July 2018, the Supreme Court had condemned incidents of lynchings across the country as “horrendous acts of mobocracy” and had directed the parliament to enact a new law to punish those participating in such incidents.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, had also asked the legislature to consider enacting a new penal provision to deal with offences of mob violence and provide deterrent punishment to such offenders.
Subsequently, in September 2018, the Supreme Court sought reports from several states indicating their compliance of its July 17 verdict. The apex court also sought the Centre’s response on compliance of the court’s directive to run an awareness campaign on television, radio and electronic and print media against mob lynching and cow vigilantism.