The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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House clears cow slaughter resolution

New Delhi, April 10: A depleted Lok Sabha today adopted a BJP member’s private resolution against cow slaughter after Speaker Manohar Joshi overruled the objections of the Congress and Left parties which said the move violated the Constitution.

The resolution, moved by Prahlad Singh Patel — a BJP MP from Madhya Pradesh — and adopted by voice vote amid a walkout by Congress and Left members, expressed the view that Parliament should pass a law banning cow slaughter.

Joshi, while rejecting the Opposition’s objections, cited three precedents in the House when resolutions demanding ban on cow slaughter had been moved — passed on one occasion, rejected on another and not taken up on the third.

He said a resolution was merely an expression of “sentiments” and thus different from legislation.

The resolution was admitted as a private member’s resolution in the first phase of the budget session last month.

For nearly 90 minutes, Congress, Left and Muslim League members resisted the BJP’s effort to get the resolution adopted by making a strong constitutional case against it. But the outcome of the noisy discussion on the point of order they raised was a foregone conclusion.

This was because some smaller Opposition parties preferred to stay away, thereby neutralising the decision of several allies of the BJP not to attend the proceedings.

If MPs of NDA allies like the Samata Party, the Telugu Desam, the DMK and the Trinamul Congress chose not to be present, so did members of the Opposition Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal.

The Shiv Sena was the only NDA ally to support the resolution, which is primarily meant to counter Madhya Pradesh’s Congress chief minister Digvijay Singh’s campaign on the cow-slaughter plank. Jayalalithaa’s ADMK also backed the resolution.

Earlier, opposing a vote on the issue, Congress deputy leader in the House Shivraj Patil said the issue came under the State List of the Constitution on which only state legislatures were competent to legislate. CPM leader Somnath Chatterjee cited Article 245 to make the same point.

Both pointed to an earlier observation in the House by minister of state for agriculture Hukum Dev Narain Yadav that Parliament could not legislate on the subject. Yadav had made the observation when the issue was taken up last time. Patil, however, added that the Congress was not opposed to banning cow slaughter.

Parliamentary affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, while conceding that Parliament was not competent to legislate on the subject, asserted that there were past instances when it had legislated on subjects on which it did not have constitutional authorisation.

She also said that Patil, when he was deputy Speaker of the House over a decade ago, had allowed a division on an anti-cow slaughter resolution. At this, Patil countered her, saying that if a mistake had been made once, there was no justification repeating it.

While the BJP had its way on this issue, the party virtually forced its MP, Adityanath, to withdraw his private member’s Bill on a common civil code. Party spokesman V.K. Malhotra later told reporters that a legislation on the subject required a larger political consensus.

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