The Telangana High Court has issued notices on a plea challenging certain rules pertaining to the transportation of animals and livestock.
The PIL has been filed by the All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee against Rule 253 of the Telangana Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 and Rule 125-E of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989. These rules stipulate special requirements for motor vehicles transporting livestock, viz.:
(i) The vehicles carrying animals shall have permanent partitions (of stipulated sizes) in the body of the vehicle so that the animals are carried individually in each partition.
The Petitioner organization has contended that it is impossible and impractical to have such partitions in the body of the vehicle since "the spaces provided are for very large size of the species of livestock and for most animals which smaller in size these spaces are not appropriate and transporting animals in larger space than required would result discomfort and adverse effect as the animals will be thrown about and may sustain injuries."
They further submitted that the provision is detrimental to animal welfare inasmuch as various veterinary experts have informed that "transporting livestock in individual partitions is against animal welfare implications as the animals have a social bond and prefer to remain in smaller groups than individual."
In this backdrop it is contended that the impugned provisions are against the scheme of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
It has been submitted that the impugned provision could be brought in line with the standard mentioned in the BIS Code which stipulates 'not to transport any other goods along with livestock except the materials required for the animals being transported such as feed, water etc."
(ii) The vehicles meant for carrying animals shall not be permitted to carry any other goods.
This provision is challenged as being ultra vires and violative of various constitutional provisions.
It is contended that such a stipulation burdens the farmers and cattle traders to pay for return journeys of the vehicle, affecting their right to trade under Article 19(1)(g) and right to livelihood under Article 21 of the Constitution.
"The current operation is Livestock are transported from rural area markets to urban area market or to user destinations and in the return journey as there will not be animals to be transported, vehicles carry appropriate goods which covers the transport costs and for sustainable operations…if the vehicle has to return after transporting livestock empty, the return journey costs also are to be borne on the account of the livestock transported which may double the costs of transportation," the plea read.
Inter alia, the plea also impugns a Circular Memo issued by the Transport Commissioner, Telangana, for enforcement of the impugned provisions. Pertinently, the said circular prohibits sale/ purchase/ transportation of any animal for religious purposes.
This, as per the Petitioner, offends the right to freedom of religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution.
Furthermore, it prohibits sale/ purchase of any animal for sale or slaughter a part of meat vending business. This, "is an unreasonable and excessive restriction on the right to free trade and business and unconstitutional interference into the freedom of trade and business guaranteed under Article 19(i)(g) of the Constitution of India," the plea read.
"the right to choice of food (Non Vegetarian or Vegetarian) is a part of the right to personal liberty, conscience and privacy. By imposing a restriction on transportation of animals for food, the citizens with a choice to eat the flesh of such animals would be deprived of such food, which violates the right to food, privacy and personal liberty, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India."
The matter is listed for hearing on March 4.
Case Title: All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee v. Union of India
Case No.: WP No. 2080/2020
Quorum: Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy
Appearance: Advocate Mohd Abdul Faheem (for Petitioner); ASG Namavarapu Rajeshwar Rao (for Respondent)