Animals are source of livelihood can't be confiscated, observes SC

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Representative Image
Representative Image

New Delhi [India], January 4 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Monday observed that animals are normally a source of livelihood and they can't be confiscated, while hearing a plea filed by Buffalo Traders Welfare Association challenging the validity of certain provisions under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde adjourned the matter for hearing on next Monday after the counsel appearing for Centre sought time to file an additional affidavit in the case.

"Animals are normally, not cats and dogs, but others are a source of livelihood. You can't confiscate them. Your rules are contradictory. You either change it or we will stay it," the Bench said to Centre.

Counsel appearing for Centre told the Bench that the Rules have been notified and there are instances of torture against the cattle.

To this, the CJI replied, "Don't come to us with such issues. We cannot countenance a situation where the Rules are running in contradiction to the objective of the Act. Confiscation can only happen for the people who are convicted."

Earlier, the apex court had sought the central government's response on a plea filed 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 or cow shelters.

The petition, filed by advocate Sanobar Ali Qureshi, challenged the notification, particularly Rule 3, 5, 8 and 9, which permits the forfeitures of the animals and send the animals to Gaushala, Pinjrapole or infirmary if the owner pleads guilty or is convicted under the act.

The petition said the notification issued on May 23, 2017, on the 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 be declared as "ultra vires and unconstitutional".

According to the Act, "If the accused is convicted, or pleads guilty, the magistrate shall deprive him of the ownership of the animals and forfeit the seized animal to the infirmary, pinjrapole, SPCA, Animal Welfare Organisation or Gaushala already having custody for proper adoption or other disposition."

The petition said that the transporters, cattle traders and farmers are facing threats due to anti-social elements since the notification of the impugned rules.

"This results in frequent lootings of the animals. It is pertinent to mention that these frequent lootings are also threatening the rule of law and generally emboldening groups of persons to take the law into their own hands. Moreover, these incidents are acting as triggers for communal polarization of the society, and if not halted effectively and immediately will have disastrous consequences on the social fabric of the country," the plea added. (ANI)