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Plea to stop barbaric means to ward off animals: SC issues notice

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The Supreme Court today (July 10) issued notice to the Centre, the State of Kerala and 12 other states in a plea challenging the use of barbaric means to ward off wild animals to ensure a life of dignity to animals.

The three-judge bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices R. Subhash Reddy and A.S. Bopanna was hearing a petition filed by advocate Shubham Awasthi in the backdrop of the death of a pregnant elephant after she accidentally ate a pineapple filled with crackers in a village nearby Silent Valley National Park, Palakkad, Kerala.

Highlighting the scarcity of staff with the forest department with shortages ranging between 30 percent and 40 percent in different states, the petitioner has urged the court for directions for filling up of vacancies of forest forces in different states for better management of animal welfare and to have effective patrolling and preventive measures in place for the protection of both humans and animals.

The petitioner has also pointed out that the union government in 1992 had launched Project Elephant and had cultivated different varieties of rice in association with Central Rice Research Institute. That particular variety rice was not liked by elephants and was thus left untouched. The petitioner has submitted that similar simpler tools need to be developed to counter the menace of wild boars, nilgais and other animals so that the farmers, villagers and local residents do not use such barbaric means to ward off wild animals.

The petitioner has also submitted that “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA) is a welfare legislation which has to be construed bearing in mind the purpose and object of the Act and the Directive Principles of State Policy. It is trite law that, in the matters of welfare legislation, the provisions of law should be liberally construed in favour of the weak and infirm. Court also should be vigilant to see that benefits conferred by such remedial and welfare legislation are not defeated by subtle devices.”

It has further been submitted that “Failure to eliminate de jure (formal) and de facto (substantive) abusive treatment meted out to Animals including by non-State actors, either directly or indirectly, violates not only the most basic rights of Animals but also violates their basic dignity as a living being as envisaged in internationally, in our constitution and the guiding principles of every dominant religion or society in India.”

The petitioner has thus urged the Court to declare such practices of usage of snares illegal and unconstitutional, and also the actions of groups, bodies and leaders that permit and propagate such practices must also be declared illegal, unconstitutional, and violative of Articles 14 & 21 of the Constitution.

-India Legal Bureau

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