Environmental laws lack implementation: Meghalaya HC Chief Justice
Meghalaya High Court

Shillong: The Meghalaya High Court has directed the state government to file a comprehensive affidavit to indicate the steps taken to implement the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017.

Acting on a PIL filed by the Gau Gyan Foundation, the two-member bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W Diengdoh in its order on Friday said: “A secretary to the state government should file an affidavit to indicate the steps taken in terms of the said Rules of 2017, the measures taken in consonance with the Act of 1960 and a clear timeline within which the said rules may be implemented and the other concerns indicated herein addressed.”

It also directed the state to also take appropriate measures in terms of the Transport of Animals Rules, 1978 and Rule 125E of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.

The court has taken into consideration the larger issue that needs to be addressed pertaining to the treatment of all animals, including those that may be bred only for the purpose of human consumption while hearing the PIL filed by Gau Gyan Foundation.

Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the rules and notifications made thereunder, there is a minimum degree of dignity and comfort which has to be afforded even to animals that are culled.

In particular, the petitioner referred to a notification of May 23, 2017 by which the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 have been framed.

The said rules of 2017 require the constitution of district animal market monitoring committees, the constitution of animal market committees, the registration of existing animal markets, the procedure for establishment of new animal markets and the functions of the district animal marketing market monitoring committees.

Such functions include the obligation to ensure certain minimum requirements in animal markets.

It does not appear that any mechanism in terms of the said rules of 2017 has been put in place in the state.

The petitioner also maintained that in terms of orders passed by the Supreme Court pertaining to the treatment of animals, a veritable right to live with dignity has also been conferred on animals, particularly in how animals are treated by humans in this country.

The court, however, said it is imperative that a regime be set up in the state to ensure better treatment of animals, particularly those that are transported, those that are brought to any market-place, the manner in which the animals are culled and to ensure humane and hygienic conditions at all stages and places.

The state was not able to indicate immediately as to whether any steps have been taken here in terms of the said rules of 2017, if there is any department which may have been entrusted with the responsibility in such regard, it said.

The court has also asked the state that an appropriate mechanism be put in place as expeditiously as possible.

While on the subject, the state must also ensure that more hygienic conditions are followed by meat-sellers, whatever kind of meat they may be selling, the court said.

The next hearing will be held on June 14.

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