The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned hearing for a week on the plea filed by Buffalo Traders Welfare Association challenging the constitutionality of 2017 notifications allowing the authorities to seize the vehicles used in cattle transportation and to send the animals to Gaushala. The bench of Chief Justice S. A. Bobde, Justices A. S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian heard the plea and allowed the impleadment of interventions in the matter.
During the hearing, the CJI asked the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta “what are you going to do about the rules”. “We told you last time that rules are in dissonance with the Sections. The animals are the source of livelihood for people. The section is clear that only after conviction that animals can be taken away. The rules permit to take away animals even before conviction,” the CJI said.
The Solicitor General replied that the petitioner has confused between seizure and confiscation. An animal subject to cruelty cannot be allowed to be maintained by the person. As in the case of any seizure, the party can approach the court for custody. He said a detailed reply has been filed.
Senior Advocate V.V. Giri and Siddharth Luthra, who appeared for intervener Gauri Maulekhi, said that they are for interveners. Luthra said please look at Section 35 of the Act that allows for seizure.
The CJI then said selling does not mean the animal has been subjected to cruelty. Selling helps livelihood. We are talking about a situation where animals are taken away.
The Court was hearing the petition filed by a Delhi-based cattle trader’s organisation which claimed such notifications travelled beyond the provisions of the parent law, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
The petitioner organisation has challenged the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on May 23, 2017 for being unconstitutional and illegal.
The organisation, through its president Mohd Aqil Qureshi, has submitted that the notification “results in frequent lootings of the animals in violation of the rule of law. Certain groups got emboldened to take the law into their own hands. Moreover, these incidents are acting as triggers for communal polarization of the society, and, if not halted effectively and immediately, those will have disastrous consequences on the social fabric of the country.”