Livestock exporters have got a breather on complying with guidelines issued two months ago by the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS), as the Gujarat High Court last Friday (October 25) held that they may export livestock on vessels sailing from Tuna Port in Kutch district, without having to adhere to the guidelines prescribed for transportation of livestock by sea.
The impugned order of the DGS, had issued guidelines for carriage of livestock by the vessels registered under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 on September 12 this year.
However, the division bench headed by Justice Harsha Devani observed that an affidavit-in-reply that was filed failed to mention the nature of power exercised by the DGS, Mumbai.
References were made in the affidavit to provisions of Article 51(c) of the Constitution of India (foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in the dealings of organised peoples with one another;…) and the preamble of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. Certain paragraphs of the international resolutions, such as the International Maritime Organisation’s Resolution, adopted by India in 2017, which stresses that animals presented for loading as cargo should be managed in accordance with international standards for the transport of animals at sea was also referred to.
The court also noted, “…senior standing counsel is not in a position to point out as to which (statutory) powers have been conferred upon the respondent No.2 (Director General of Shipping, Mumbai) so as to enable him to issue the impugned order dated 12.09.2019 as well as to take action in terms of the International Maritime Organisation’s Resolu-tion.” While the matter remains to be adjudicated further, the court granted ad-interim relief to the petitioner — livestock exporters Prisha Overseas Pvt Ltd and two others – that they may continue to export livestock without having to comply with the guidelines laid down in the September DGS order.
As per guidelines, the Director General wields the power to refuse an application or revoke a livestock vessel approval if he/she was of the opinion that the owner of a livestock vessel has committed an offence, relating to animal health or welfare or the environment, or the owner had failed to comply with a condition of a livestock vessel approval or required information has not been furnished. The guidelines are laid down with respect to several aspects such as care and penning of livestock onboard, disposal of dead livestock at sea, storage of drugs and medicines, livestock loading densities, specifications and equipment for vessels, etc.