The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Centre readies cow Bill minus stick

New Delhi, May 6: In a clear political signal ahead of national elections next year, the Union Cabinet today approved a move to introduce a law to ban cow slaughter but this would not be binding on all states.

“Only those states which want it will adopt it,” parliamentary affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said while briefing reporters after the weekly meeting of the Cabinet.

The Centre will at best provide a “model legislation” which can be used by those who want to enforce the ban.

Under Article 252(1) of the Constitution, the Centre can, if requested by two states, enact a model legislation.

However, the Central Act will have to be approved by the state legislatures before it is applicable.

Swaraj said the Centre would act only if two or more states request it to formulate a Bill that prohibits cow slaughter in the country.

The Cabinet also approved a proposal to approach the state governments to pass a resolution on the subject in their respective legislatures and forward it to New Delhi.

Replying to a question, Swaraj said though the Congress chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijay Singh, had written a letter to the Centre favouring such a ban, there had been no resolution from the Assembly to enact such a measure.

Swaraj said many states have laws banning cow slaughter, but they were neither uniform nor stringent.

Some have provisions allowing the slaughter of old cows but healthy cattle heads were often killed in the process, the minister added.

Judge selection panel

The Cabinet also decided to set up a national judicial commission for appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and high courts.

The commission will be chaired by the Chief Justice of India. Two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, the law minister and an eminent citizen, possibly a legal luminary, will be its members.

At present, Supreme Court judges are appointed by the President after consultations with apex court judges and those from high courts as the President may deem necessary.

In the case of the appointment of a judge other than the Chief Justice of India, the CJI is always required to be consulted.

Judges of high courts are appointed by the President in consultation with the CJI, the respective Governor and in the case of appointment of a judge other than the chief justice, the high court chief justice.

Dual citizenship

The Cabinet decided to grant dual citizenship to Indians living in the US, the UK and six other countries (see chart).

“Indians living there will have to apply for dual citizenship and the government could grant it after due verification,” Swaraj said.

They would not have voting rights and would not be allowed to hold constitutional offices or jobs in the three defence services, she said.

Marriage Acts

The Cabinet decided to amend the Hindu Marriage Act and the Special Marriage Act to enable women to file petitions for redress in courts in places of their stay in the event of collapsed marriage.

“A woman suffering due to a broken marriage will be able to file a petition where she is ordinarily residing,” Swaraj said.

The appeal period against judicial orders for women would be increased from 30 days to 90 days.

Under the provisions in force now, a woman can seek legal relief through a petition which can be filed only at a place where the marriage took place or where the respondent was staying or where the couple stayed last together, she said.

In case the whereabouts of the husband are not known or he is abroad, the petition can be filed at the place where the woman stays.

The changes will remove several difficulties being faced by women who have either been maltreated or turned out of their homes, Swaraj said.

The Cabinet also ratified three agreements inked with Tajikistan, Croatia and Uzbekistan to curb terrorism, illicit trafficking and strengthen economic cooperation.

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