- Apprentice Lawyer
The Supreme Court today asked the Central government to reconsider the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017, which provides for confiscation of cattle and vehicles used for cattle transportation even before the person accused of offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, is convicted.
Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde stated that animals are a "source of livelihood" and that Section 29 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act state that animals can only be confiscated if the person involved is convicted. Hence, Rules cannot run contrary to the express intention of the Act, the CJI said.
The Bench also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, therefore, said that Central government should amend the Rules failing which the top court will stay its operation.
The Court was hearing a plea by Buffalo Traders Welfare Association challenging the validity of 2017 Rules which allow authorities to seize vehicles used in cattle transportation and send the animals to gaushalas etc.
The petition has challenged the constitutionality of the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017.
The Rules allow a magistrate to forfeit the cattle of an owner facing trial under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The animals are then sent to infirmaries, gaushalas, pinjarapole, etc. The authorities can further give such animals for “adoption”. In short, a farmer or a traders loses his cattle even before he is adjudged guilty of cruelty under the 1960 Act.
The petitioner pointed out that the Centre had earlier promised Supreme Court that it would amend and re-notify the Rules but nothing has been done so far. The rules are being employed to seize and forfeit cattle from their rightful owners, the association said.
The Rules have emboldened “anti-social elements” to take matters into their own hands and loot cattle traders and it has become a cause for polarisation of society, the petitioner added.
Additional Solicitor General Jayant Sud submitted on Monday that there is evidence of animals being tortured.
CJI led bench stated that then either the law "needs to be amended" or the court will stay its operation.
The government is now expected to file a short reply. The case will be heard next on January 11.