Taking note of a complaint filed by former MP and BJP national vice president Avinash Rai Khanna regarding collection of cow cess in Punjab but its non-distribution to cattle pounds, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has issued directions to all the DCs, SSPs and principal secretary of the Local Bodies Department, Punjab.
In their directions, Justice Ashutosh Mohunta and Justice Avinash Kaur have directed DCs to report about steps taken in their district for prevention of life and livelihood from stray cattle, whether any official committee has been constituted regarding stray animals, if yes then the names of office and constitution of body has been sought and whether cattle pond has been constructed at government allocated place.
Similarly, the SSPs have been directed to report if a committee regarding stray cattle has been constituted in their district. The Principal Secretary, Local Bodies, has been directed to report about the total number of stray cattle in state, accidents so far due to stray cattle, amount of cow cess collected so far and utilised and report on number of farmers and their livelihoods, till date, have been affected due to stray cattle.
Khanna had moved the PSHRC seeking mandatory directions to implement different notifications/letters issued by the Punjab government concerning welfare of cow and other stray animals as non-action is causing violation of human rights in terms of road accidents, crop damage, physical injuries etc. He mentioned that it is an indicative of glaring stances of human rights violation.
Notification imposing Cow Cess was issued by the Punjab government on May 4, 2015 to aid 472 existing gaushalas of Punjab. But till today, not even a single penny has been disbursed/spent on the purpose for which the same has been collected, stated Khanna in his petition.