Questioning the detention of a Gir Somnath resident under the Gujarat Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA) Act, 1985 for his alleged cruelty to cattle, the Gujarat High Court Friday asked the government counsel if the district magistrate who ordered the detention is as proactive in extending care to women and children under its jurisdiction as it is towards preventing cruelty against animals.
“The government’s measure to ensure no trouble in gauvansh is appreciated but the care taken for animals, is the same care taken for children?…Women and children are under the collector’s jurisdiction,” Justice Paresh Upadhyay said.
Aspak Hanifbhai Panja was detained under the PASA Act in May this year following an order by the Gir Somnath district magistrate. The order was based on two FIRs against Panja for cruelty to animals, alleging that he had tied up cattle making it difficult for them to drink water. In June, he moved the high court against his detention.
Seeking that the detention order be quashed, Panja’s counsel said mere filing of two FIRs is no ground for the detaining authority to arrive at the conclusion that the activities of the petitioner are prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. It was also submitted that reading the FIRs would make it clear that the detention order is unsustainable.
In an order on June 29, Justice Upadhyay had observed that the detention order was indeed unsustainable and had granted an opportunity to the detaining authority to file a specific reply as to “whether the care which is claimed to have been taken on behalf of the State for gauvansh (cow progeny) in the present case, similar care is being taken for citizens in the area under his jurisdiction. If any such reply is filed by the detaining authority before the next date of hearing, that shall also be taken into consideration by this Court while recording the final order. Until that exercise is done, the petitioner needs to be protected.” The court had also suspended further execution of the detention order.
The matter came up before the court on Friday when the assistant government pleader submitted that the detaining authority’s reply was ready but was yet to be filed, and sought more time from the court. Granting time until August 13, Justice Upadhyay said the court appreciates the measure taken to protect cows, but asked if the same care was extended to women and children. “This is the point on which you had to file a reply, not later than July 23,” it said.