The High Court of Bombay: Nagpur Bench passed a judgement on 06 June 2023. In the case of ANSAR AHMAD S/O SHEIKH SATTAR AND 2 OTHERS Vs STATE OF MHA. THR. PSO GITTIKHADAN NAGPUR AND ANOTHER IN CRIMINAL WRIT PETITION NO. 708 OF 20 22 with CRIMINAL WRIT PETITION NO. 715 OF 2022 which was passed by a division bench comprising of HONOURABLE SHRI JUSTICE G. A. SANAP, the court addressed two writ petitions filed under Article 227 of the Indian Constitution. The petitions challenged the order of the learned Additional Sessions Judge-16, Nagpur, which dismissed the revision applications filed by the petitioners against the order of the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Nagpur. The petitions involved the custody of seized animals in two separate cases involving the illegal transportation of animals in violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
The first writ petition (No. 708/2022) involved three petitioners claiming ownership of cattle seized from trucks on 10th March 2022. The prosecution alleged that the animals were transported inhumanely and subjected to unnecessary pain and suffering. The second writ petition (No. 715/2022) involved a single petitioner claiming ownership of cattle seized from a truck on 1st March 2022.
The petitioners, not being accused in the crimes, sought custody of the seized animals, arguing that they possessed valid trade licenses for the purchase and sale of animals. They claimed that the animals were intended for sale in another market and included milching buffaloes, which affected their income. The state opposed the applications, contending that interim custody should be retained by the registered Gaushala (animal shelter) mentioned in Section 35 of the Act of 1960.
The court heard arguments from the learned advocates for the parties and examined the record and proceedings. The petitioners’ advocate argued that there was no prima facie evidence of cruelty towards the animals and that the animals’ custody should be given to the owners during the trial. The additional public prosecutor representing the state maintained that the offense had been established, and hence, the petitioners were not entitled to custody.
The advocate for respondent no.2, Maa Foundation, highlighted that they were registered with the Charity Commissioner and had the necessary facilities to care for the animals. They argued that the transportation of the animals had violated relevant rules, such as the Transport of Animals Rules, 1978, and the Transport of Animals (Amendment) Rules, 2001. The advocate emphasized the Foundation’s commitment to the protection, care, and welfare of animals.
- Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960: This law aims to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals and promotes their welfare. It sets standards for the treatment and transportation of animals and prohibits cruelty towards them.
- Motor Vehicles Act, 1988: This act governs the regulation of motor vehicles in India. While the specific provisions relevant to the case were not mentioned, it is likely that the act includes regulations regarding the transportation of animals in vehicles.
- Transport of Animals Rules, 1978: These rules, made under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, provide guidelines for the transportation of animals. They specify requirements for vehicles, including certification, provision of first-aid equipment, water, fodder, and limitations on the number of animals per vehicle.
- Transport of Animals (Amendment) Rules, 2001: These rules amend the Transport of Animals Rules, 1978, and introduce additional provisions to ensure the welfare of transported animals. They require a valid certificate from an authorized officer or Animal Welfare Organization for the transport of animals.
- Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989: These rules, made under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, regulate the construction, equipment, and use of motor vehicles. While the specific provision mentioned in the blog, Rule 125E, was not elaborated upon, it likely contains requirements for vehicles transporting livestock, such as the provision of permanent partitions and restrictions on carrying other goods.
VIOLATION OF ANIMAL WELFARE RULES:
To assess the claim that the animals were not subjected to cruelty, the court examined relevant rules. It found that the transport of the animals had violated several provisions. Rules 47 to 50 and 56 of the Transport of Animals Rules, 1978, specify requirements for the transportation of animals. The vehicles used had not obtained a valid certificate from a qualified veterinary surgeon, and there were no provisions for first-aid equipment, water, or fodder. Additionally, Rule 56(c) limits the number of cattle per goods vehicle to six, which was exceeded in this case.
The court also considered Rule 96 of the Transport of Animals (Amendment) Rules, 2001, which required a valid certificate issued by an authorized officer or Animal Welfare Organization. This certificate was not obtained, further establishing non-compliance with animal welfare laws. Furthermore, the amended Rule 125E of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, stipulated specific requirements for vehicles transporting livestock, including the provision of permanent partitions and restrictions on carrying other goods.
JUDGMENT AND CONCLUSION:
Based on the violations of animal welfare rules and the prima facie evidence of cruelty, the court concluded that the animals should not be handed over to the petitioners during the pendency of the trial. The court emphasized that the registered Gaushala, respondent no.2, was well-equipped to provide.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY VETHIKA D PORWAL, BMS COLLEGE OF LAW