16 March 2021 5:15 PM GMT
The Patna High Court recently expressed dismay at the Courts below not ensuring the well-being of cattle seized for the alleged violation of the Prevention of Cruelty Act and the rules pertaining to transport of livestock.A single bench of Justice Ashutosh Kumar was dealing with an order passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Aurangabad, which dismissed an application filed by a person...
The Patna High Court recently expressed dismay at the Courts below not ensuring the well-being of cattle seized for the alleged violation of the Prevention of Cruelty Act and the rules pertaining to transport of livestock.
A single bench of Justice Ashutosh Kumar was dealing with an order passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Aurangabad, which dismissed an application filed by a person claiming ownership of the cattle seeking their interim release.
The application was filed by one Bijendra Kumar Singh, from whom five adult cows and two calves were seized in 2018, while they were being transported in a truck. The seizure was made on the basis of a complaint filed by a one Santhosh Kumar Singh, a member of Bhartiya Gaurakshak Samaj Seva Sangathan, who alleged that the cattle were being transported in a crammed condition with their nostrils tied against each other. It was also alleged that the cattle were being smuggled.
Following that, the Bihar police registered FIR under Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code; Sections 4, 4(B) (2) of Bihar Preservation and Improvement of Animals Act, 1955; Sections 20 /11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 etc.
Bijendra Kumar, the person claiming ownership, filed an application before the CJM Aurangabad seeking interim release of the cattle, saying that he had purchased them at a cattle fair. He also produced certain documents to show sale and transfer of the animals. However, the application was rejected. The rejection was confirmed by the Sessions Court as well.
Following that, he filed a revision petition in the High Court.
'Disheartening Situation', HC observes
The High Court noted that the Courts below ignored the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017 which mandate that the seized cattle should be kept at any infirmary, goshala, or any shelter home run by Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
A peculiar decision was taken by the Courts in allowing the cattle to be retained by private persons and Constables of the Police Department, the HC observed.
The High Court also noted that the courts below did not obtain any report from the jurisdictional veterinary officer regarding the health of the animals.
"What is the status of health of the cattle which has been seized and given on Jimmanama is not known. Who is spending money on their upkeep is also in complete obscurity....
This Court is also averse to note that there is no report about those cattle as to their condition today whether they are alive or dead", Justice Ashuthosh Kumar said in the judgment.
The Court described the situation as "disheartening".
The Courts below did not seriously examine the question of ownership raised by the applicant. Also, there was not a prima facie finding regarding cruelty committed to the animals, the HC noted.
"This Court is absolutely unhappy in the manner in which the courts below have handled the application of release of the life stock. There is no discussion with respect to the ownership or of having come to the definite prima facie finding that cruelty was perpetrated on the animals whilst they were being transported to Hazaribagh from the animal market from where those were purchased", the judgment said.
Court pulls up cow-vigilante
The High Court also expressed dissatisfaction with the conduct of the activist who lodged the complaint.
"What has also bothered this Court is the extreme and unusual interest of the informant in opposing such application for release but without showing any commensurate sympathy or concern for the cattle", the HC observed about the member of Bhartiya Gaurakshak Samaj Seva Sangathan.
"If the efforts of the informant were really public spirited or in the interest of the cattle which were seized because of his efforts, the yeoman services provided by him to the State administration could be creditworthy.But if the purpose is different, it, for sure, raises alarm bell", the HC added.
The HC observed that merely because certain provisions were shown to the Courts below by an extra-spirited informant, the application appears to have been rejected.
"This is not the manner in which the cruelty to animals could be prevented. It is a lopsided effort of the informant as well as the Courts in ensuring the implementation of the rules referred to above", the HC said.
The High Court quashed the order of the CJM Aurangabad and remitted the matter back to it to deal with the application seeking release afresh.
While disposing of the application, the Court below should look into the requirements of the Rules, the HC reminded.
The Court also directed to conclude the final proceedings as expeditiously as possible, preferably within a period of four months.
Click here to read/download the judgment