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SC Adjourns Plea Seeking For Intervention In Spread Of COVID19 In Zoos

Radhika Roy
16 July 2020 9:15 AM GMT
SC Adjourns Plea Seeking For Intervention In Spread Of COVID19 In Zoos
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The Supreme Court adjourned a plea regarding concerns of spread of COVID-19 infection to animals in zoological parks and failure on the part of the Central Zoo Authority to notify the Centre of the absence of their inclusion in the list of "essential services". 

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde heard the matter and, while adjourning it to be listed after four weeks, stated that the case may lay down rules for the future.

"This case may lay down the rules for the future. Your matter will be heard. We'll list your case after 4 weeks, and you come and make your submissions".

The plea, filed by Animal Rights' activist Sangeeta Dogra, expressed anguish over zoos not being included in the list of essential services and the failure on the part of the Central Zoo Authority to notify the Centre of the same. Stating that Zoo animals are dependent on authorities for food, the plea submits that several violations have been committed by the Zoo Authority in ensuring the same for them.

The plea further goes on to apprise the Court that the Delhi Zoo had invoked the Essential Services Act to ensure supplies for their animals, however, no such information was available to any of the other zoos in the country. The issues regarding the safety of animals had been raised in the backdrop of reports that a tiger in Bronx Zoo in the United States of American had tested positive for COVID-19.

Today, Dogra placed the Rejoinder before the Court after a Reply had been filed by the Centre. Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta objected to the language used in the Rejoinder, informing the Court that there were insinuations of collusion with the authorities penned in it.

To this, CJI Bobde stated, "Maybe these persons are very passionate about wildlife". The SG responded, "The government is passionate as well. However, the death of the tiger was due to intestinal infection, and not COVID-19."

CJI informed the Petitioner that, "We are only dealing with the limited issue of cause of death of this tiger. Don't argue wider issues. You say he died of COVID, their report suggests it did not."

Dogra responded that the place where the tiger was found was declared a containment zone.

"If the tiger didn't have COVID, why declare it a containment zone? The 24 people who were found around him were put in quarantine."

CJI Bobde noted that the government had assured that a committee would be formed to look into the issue after the tiger's death in USA.

On Dogra informing the Bench that the tiger was our national animal, and that national symbols were to be wrapped in the national flag and given a proper send-off, CJI asked her to "listen at times" and told her that her passion had led to her using harsh words against the Respondents.

Accordingly, the Court directed for the matter to be listed after 4 weeks for final disposal.

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