The Supreme Court bench headed by CJI SA Bobde and comprising AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian on January 4, 2021, observed that ‘animals are normally a source of livelihood and they cannot be confiscated,’ while hearing a plea from a Delhi based organization, Buffalo Traders Welfare Association.
The plea filed by the complainant challenges the validity 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 as unconstitutional and against the law.
According to the act, the magistrate is allowed to forfeit the cattle of an owner facing trial. The animals are then sent to gaushalas and infirmaries for adoption. Thus, a farmer or trader is deprived of his cattle even before he is found guilty of a crime under the act of 1960.
Therefore, these acts are against the parent act of 1960.
The petitioner claimed:
“This results in frequent lootings of the animals in violation of the rule of law. Certain groups got emboldened 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, those will have disastrous consequences on the social fabric of the country.”
Justices SA Bobde and BR Gavai of India, after hearing, directed the Centre to consider withdrawal of these rules.
ASG Jayant Sood informed the court that there had been increasing instances of animal cruelty and accordingly the rules had been notified. To this, the CJI replied that either the central government needs to amend the laws or the court will stay its operation.
The government is now expected to file an affidavit or short reply before the next hearing on 11 January 2021.