On June 6, the Bombay High Court denied interim custody of about 68 cattle to its owners under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA), 1960, in a case concerning the illegal transportation of cattle. The court held that in such cases the “prime consideration must be the welfare, protection and maintenance of the animal. The Court has to see who is comparatively better suited and equipped to provide the necessary comfort and protection to the animals.”
The court said, “In this case, in my view, the Courts below have properly considered all the facts and law and rules and found that the petitioners were not entitled to get custody of the animals.” Furthermore, while the petitioners argued that they are being denied income from milching buffalos, the court granted continued custody of the cattle to the Gaushala till the conclusion of the trial.
“It is not out of place to mention that the animals have emotions, feelings and senses similar to a human being. The only difference is that the animals cannot speak and therefore, though their rights are recognized under the law, they cannot assert the same. The rights of the animals, welfare of the animals and protection of the animals has to be taken care of by the concerned in accordance with law,” the court said.
“It is seen on perusal of the facts brought on record that majority of the animals are milching buffaloes. Compared to the cow, milching buffalo is large in size. The milching buffaloes were cramped in the vehicle, which were not fitted with padding etc. There was no provision of water and fodder,” the court said.
“It is to be noted that if transportation of buffaloes had been within the permitted limits or capacities, non-compliance of other provisions and rules could have been glossed over. It is, therefore, seen that the milching buffaloes were transported in a very cruel condition. It is seen on perusal of the record that the owners, who had played important role in these cases, have not been made the accused,” the court added.
On March 1 and 10, 2022, the Nagpur police seized 68 cattle after receiving a tip about the illegal transportation of animals in trucks. The police officer intercepted the said truck and found 19 cattle being transported in inhuman conditions. The police registered a case for contravening the provisions of the PCA Act and the Motor Vehicles Act, of 1988.
The prosecution contended that the buffalos were “dumped in the vehicle” and “subjected to unnecessary pain and suffering.” Furthermore, the buffalos were being transported illegally, thus, the police officer seized the cattle and handed over their interim custody to a Gaushala.
The petitioners, not accused of the abovementioned crimes, prayed for the custody of the seized cattle. The petitioners contended that they are licensed to sale and purchase from the APMC market and the animals were purchased in accordance. Furthermore, the petitioners submitted that the cattle were being transported for sale to another APMC market.
The court relied on a Supreme Court ruling, wherein the court denied custody to the owners are the owners were transporting the cattle in “cruel conditions without a valid permit.”
The court held that the Supreme Court’s ruling as applicable to the present case and said, “It is to be noted that the only difference which can be seen is that the animals in these cases are buffaloes. The Hon’ble Apex court has held that considering violation of the rules and the manner of cruelty, the Courts below were not right in directing handing over of the custody to the owners. In my view, the facts of case before the Hon’ble Apex Court would be squarely applicable to the facts of the cases on hand.”