The Delhi High Court has dismissed a plea, seeking integration of veterinarians and other experts to implement a programme aimed at preventing spread of zoonotic diseases and their transmission between humans and animals.
“It is not for courts to administer the functions which are left to be administered by the executive,” a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar said while hearing a plea, which also claimed that a tiger in Pench Tiger Reserve died of coronavirus infection.
In a public interest litigation, animal rights activist Sangeeta Dogra claimed forest officials “incorrectly diagnosed” the cause of tiger’s death as it was based on “speculation” and not on examination by a virologist or an epidemiologist.
The PIL sought directions to the Centre to involve veterinarians, hydrologists, epidemiologists, veterinary microbiologists and Indian Veterinary Council with ICMR to help prevent the spread of coronavirus between humans and animals.
Rejecting the plea, the bench said in an order Friday, “The reliefs sought by the petitioner, in our view, have, firstly, no basis and, secondly, we do not consider it necessary, or proper to issue administrative directions in exercise of our jurisdiction to deal with public interest litigations…”
“We also find that the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is conscious of the possible spread of COVID -19 amongst the tigers, and the NTCA has already issued a circular on April 6, 2020 to the Chief Wildlife Warders of all Tiger Range States.”
The bench observed, “We find that the petitioner has not impleaded the Veterinary Council of India as a party respondent, even though she seeks relief directed to the said council…The petitioner also seeks a direction to Central Pollution Control Board. Once again, we find that the petitioner has not impleaded it as a party respondent.”
It recorded the submission of Dogra, who contended that “post mortem report of the Tiger T-21 has not been provided, and she suspects that his death was caused by COVID-19, as transmitted from humans to tigers”.
The Centre’s additional standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia stated that the post-mortem report is available and it shows the cause of the tiger’s death was not Covid-19.
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