India beef ban
Anyone found selling or in possession of beef in the Indian state of Maharashtra faces jail for five years and £105 fine.Getty Images

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee gave final nod on Tuesday (3 March) to a bill banning the slaughter of bulls and bullocks in the Indian state of Maharashtra, directly affecting Mumbai, the state's capital city.

The Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill that was 19 years in the making passed the Maharashtra Assembly in 1995; however, it was never signed by the president.

Under the new Act, only water buffalos that provide carabeef, an inferior quality meat, can be slaughtered, reported The Indian Express.

Anyone found selling or in possession of beef can face imprisonment for five years and fined Rs10,000 (£105).

Slaughtering of cows is already forbidden in the Maharashtra state under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act of 1976.

Following the passing of the bill, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted: "Thanks a lot Hon President Sir for the assent on Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill. Our dream of ban on cow slaughter becomes a reality now.

"This is a historic step, which has cultural as well as economic implications for the state."

Meanwhile, the president of the Mumbai Suburban Beef Dealer Association, Mohammed Qureshi said: "Apart from rendering people jobless, the immediate effect will be the spiralling price of other meats as people will be forced to gravitate to them."

Beef traders are now investigating if they can take legal action against the bill.

Arif Chowdhury, an official at the All India Jamiatul Quresh, an organisation of beef traders, said: "We are now holding deliberations to see if we can challenge this in any way. The beef traders have been impacted but it will be the farmers who will be affected the most. Who will care for the old and infirm animals that were earlier sold for meat?"