The NDA government’s commitment to the cause of cow protection was Monday questioned by the Supreme Court, which sought an explanation from the Centre over delay in framing stringent rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Irked over frequent requests for adjournments, a bench of Justices J S Khehar and Arun Mishra directed the government to tender a definite deadline by which new rules under the Act shall be framed, especially in order to prevent illegal movement of cattle across the border from India to Nepal, to be sacrificed at the Gadhimai Festival.
“You (government) seem not worried about this at all,” the bench told the government’s counsel. “We don’t want to take (up) this matter over and over again for the same thing. Our order was passed in July 2015. What have you done in the last one year?”
The court was hearing a PIL moved by animal rights activist Gauri Maulekhi, who sought directions to the Centre and states for checking illegal movement of live cattle across the borders for slaughter and sacrifice. The petition also underlined the need for an urgent overhaul of the animal laws in the country to curb abuse of animals.
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The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was framed in 1960 and the penalties have not been revised ever since.
Issuing an interim order to immediately stop smuggling of animals to Nepal for sacrifice at Gandhimai Festival, the bench had ordered all states to constitute Societies for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, as stipulated under the Act. The government had told the court that new rules with deterrent effects would be framed and notified soon.
However, Monday, the bench noted that in the last year, the Centre had only sought more time on the issue without indicating when it would frame the rules. “You tell us when are you going to do it? You want three weeks, four weeks or one month… just tell us when will you do it and we will adjourn the matter. It is your government,” the bench said.
The counsel sought two days to revert to the court with instructions on a final deadline regarding notification of the new rules under the law. The bench fixed the hearing for Thursday.