Thursday, August 18, 2022

Republic Day camels: Delhi High Court to hear PIL on cruelty to animals during transport

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The Delhi High Court will hear a plea that alleges illegal transportation of camels in the national capital for the Republic Day parade is in violation of guidelines laid down by the Centre in respect of the protection of rights of animals.

While hearing the matter on Wednesday last week, the Division Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh had asked Ankur Bhasin, counsel representing the petitioner association, to apprise the court if the said guidelines are legally enforceable and binding.

“Is there any Act/Rules/Regulations under which all these things have been defined or are these just guidelines given by a superior officer to an inferior officer?” the Bench had asked while refusing to issue notice in the matter.

The plea would now be heard on February 28, 2022.

The instant PIL has been filed by Scouts & Guides for Animals and Birds Trust, an organization which is working towards animal welfare. The plea seeks safeguarding of the interest of camels against their illegal transportation to Delhi during Republic Day parade as a part of tradition. 

The plea highlights camels are transported in goods carriers for the purpose of parade, which is ultra vires to the provision and mandate of Section 2 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

It is contended that the petitioner has been raising voice for framing of rules for transport of camels and other animals since more than a decade, but no rule and regulation has been implemented by the government.  It is further contended that in 2012, a meeting of the Animal Welfare Board of India was held wherein it was decided to formulate rules and regulations in this regard. 

The plea points out that in response to an RTI filed by the petitioner in 2015, a detailed description of the required vehicles for transportation of camels was given. “The compliance of the same has never been done by any of the respondents and the failure of this has been resulting in cruelty towards the camels,” alleges the petitioner.

Referring to the decision of the Apex Court in Animal Welfare Board of India Versus A. Nagaraja & Ors., wherein the court recognized the fundamental rights of animals and directed for disciplinary action against officers who fail to discharge their duties to safeguard the rights of animals, the plea prays for necessary action for the purported act against those who acted in contravention of rules laid down by the Apex Court.

The plea thus reads: “Article 51A (g) places a duty on the citizens of India to protect and improve the natural environment and have compassion for all living creatures. The act of transporting camels and other animals for the purpose of show at Republic Day parade on 26/01/2022 at Rajpath, India Gate is in contravention of the settled law.”

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