Delhi High Court has sought the Centre’s response on a plea claiming that the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) was being excluded from a panel on animal testing, as it had opposed a government notification allegedly paving way for bulls to be used for “performances” like Jallikattu. Jallikattu, also known Eruthazhuvuthal, is a bull-taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as part of the Pongal harvest festival. Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva issued notice to the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change and the Control and Supervision of Experimentation on Animals (CPCSEA) seeking their replies on the petition which alleges that the Board’s removal from the panel violates the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, apart from being also “arbitrary and high handed”.
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The plea by a member of the Board claims that the government by way of a notification issued on January 7 had excluded bulls from the list of animals not to be used for performance and AWBI had challenged it in the Supreme Court which had stayed the circular. Subsequently, the Board was excluded from CPCSEA that was reconstituted on February 17, without informing AWBI which has been part of the panel since 1991, the petition has alleged.
The court listed the matter, which seeks setting aside of the February 17 decision reconstituting the CPCSEA, for next hearing on January 23 next. The petition also seeks reconstitution of the panel with adequate representation of AWBI. Central government standing counsel Jasmeet Singh contended during the brief hearing that under the Act the Board was not required to be made a member of the CPCSEA. The petition by Chinny Krishna, Vice Chairman of the Board, claims that CPCSEA was set up on AWBI’s advice which was done as per the provisions of the Act.