The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to consider withdrawal of the 2017 Rules under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which allow authorities to seize vehicles used in cattle transportation and send the animals to gaushalas or cow shelters, within a week.
“Either you change it or we will stay it”, said the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, according to LiveLaw. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Jayant Sood, representing the State submitted to the Bench that he would seek instructions and file a short Affidavit by January 11, 2021.
Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, who appeared for the petitioner, informed the Court that on the last hearing on August 17, 2020, ASG Jayant Sood was supposed to inform the Court about the position of the Rules but failed to do so.
When the ASG then said that the Rules had already been notified by August 17, CJI Bobde remarked, “Animals, not cats and dogs, are a source of livelihood. You cannot take this away, and it is also against Section 29 of the Act. Your Rules are contradictory. You either change it or stay it.” ASG Sood then sought some time to seek instructions and to file a short Affidavit on the issue.
Section 29 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, empowers only the courts to make an order whether the animal needs to be forfeited to Government or disposed of, if the owner of the animal is convicted of any offence under the said Act.
The plea, filed by Buffalo Traders Welfare Association, states that 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, were notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, on May 23 and are unconstitutional in nature.
It was further stated in the plea: “while running contradictory to the Act itself, the Rules result in frequent looting of the animals in violation of the Rule of Law. Certain groups get emboldened to take the law into their own hands. Moreover, these incidents are acting as triggers for communal polarization of society, and if not halted effectively and immediately, those will have disastrous consequences on the social fabric of the country”, as per LiveLaw reports.
Back in 2017, the Centre had told the Court that they were considering the withdrawal of the Rules. In an order dated July 11, 2017 Chief Justice Jagdish Khehar Singh and Justice Dr. D.Y Chandrachud noted:
“It is also the contention of the Union of India, that a large number of representations depicting the allegedly unworkable and unacceptable provisions of the Rules have been received, and a number of writ petitions have been filed in different High Courts, besides those which have been filed before this Court. It is pointed out that the issues of challenge raised in the representations and writ petitions are the subject matter of fresh consideration by the Government of India. It is pointed out, that the Ministry of Environment and Forests, is presently seized of the matter, and after an appropriate determination, changes if any, as may be considered appropriate will be introduced after which the amended Rules, shall be re-notified. We record the above statement made to this Court on behalf of the Government of India.”
The matter is now expected to be taken up on January 11, 2021.
The Supreme Court order dated July 11, 2017 may be read here: