Maneka Trust apologises to HC,says matter settled

The apology,submitted in an affidavit,comes in the wake of the court having ordered the registration of an FIR against the Trust for illegally confining the animals

Updated: April 9, 2014 11:56 am

Expressing ‘deep regret’ at the ‘inconvenience’ caused,the New Delhi-based Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre — run by a trust that has BJP MP Maneka Gandhi as one of its members — on Tuesday tendered an unconditional and unqualified apology to the Punjab and Haryana High Court for not releasing 60 camels to their owners despite court orders in this regard.

The apology,submitted in an affidavit,comes in the wake of the court having ordered the registration of an FIR against the Trust for illegally confining the animals. The shelter’s counsel — advocate Gurminder Singh — however,apprised the high court that the Trust had settled the matter amicably by buying the camels from the eight owners for over Rs 15 lakh.

The advocate further informed the court that the Haryana Police has acted on the FIR and arrested two people associated with the animal centre while a third member will

surrender on Tuesday. The fourth accused — a Haryana Police sub inspector accused of colluding with the animal shelter authorities in detaining the camels — is yet to be arrested.

Taking strong exception to the non-arrest,the Court has now given the Haryana Police,a week to nab the the sub-inspector,failing which the Bench said it will pass appropriate orders against senior police officials. The court,however,asked the police to refrain from seeking custodial interrogation of the animal shelter associates if they surrender but one of the accused has already been in jail for the past two weeks.

In its affidavit,the Trust has submitted that it holds the orders of the Court in ‘highest esteem and would never breach or disobey them’ but clarified that the matter had been settled. “The eight camel owners have separately received payments for their animals and have relinquished all rights. The matter stands amicably resolved between the owners and the answering respondents,” the affidavit reads. It further explains that the Trust had “acted in a bonafide manner for the care and well being of the camels which were in distress”.

As directed by the court,the Trust produced its audited balance sheet. The High Court had sought the balance sheet after it discovered that the animal shelter authorities had demanded Rs 25 lakh from the camel owners as fee for taking care of their animals for seven days. The shelter’s counsel,however,said that the demand was an attempt to deter the owners from selling their animals to slaughter houses.

Referring to the Rs 25 lakh demand,the Division Bench on Tuesday orally remarked that it raises suspicions that the police and the authorities were looking at ways to generate income. The Court adjourned the matter to August 16. The matter had reached high court after a Gurgaon Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) had brought it to the court’s notice.

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