Uttarakhand HC Declares Itself Guardian Of Cows, Says No Pain Or Agony Should Be Inflected Upon Cows
On August 13, Monday, in a unique hearing the Uttarakhand High Court declared itself the legal guardian of cows in the state. The Court invoked the ‘parens patriae’ doctrine in the state to further issue “mandatory directions” for the welfare of the cattle.
“Owners will be prosecuted”
Invoking of Parens Patriae means any authority, can be regarded as the legal protector of citizens (here cattle) who are unable to protect themselves.
According to Hindustan Times, the Court issued 31 directions to the state government, including setting up a cow shelter for a group of 25 villages and registering cases against those who abandon their cows.
It has further directed all Circle Officers in the state to keep a check in rural area and has asked the officers to do timely patrol in 24 hours to ensure that no cow is slaughtered. The Court also said that “Owners of cattle would be prosecuted if the cattle are found on the streets, roads and public places”.
The 40-page order has also directed the chief engineers of national highways and state highways, the village panchayats, and the municipal bodies to ensure the safety of stray cattle. It has asked the civic authorities to ensure that “ no stray cattle come onto the roads”. It also added that “utmost compassion” must be shown by state functionaries and the cattle should not be inflected with pain and suffering while being removed from the roads.
“Ramp for the cattle”
Directing for the additional arrangements for the cows the Court said, “In case the (stray) cattle are transported, in that eventuality, there should be a provision for construction of ramps, and the vehicles should be driven at speeds not more than 10-15 kms/hour to avoid injuries to the animals, being transported.” as reported by The Indian Express.
The ruling came when the Division bench headed by, acting chief justice Rajiv Sharma and justice Manoj Kumar Tiwari were hearing a Public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the year 2017 by the petition from Sohalpur Gada village in Roorkee tehsil of Haridwar district, where he had sought the court’s intervention to stop the illegal cow slaughter in his village.
“Treatment for the cattle”
In the order, the court has also asked the state government to register cases against the people who leave any cow on the streets after milking them. The order also asserted that all the veterinary hospitals in the state to provide medical treatment to the “cows and animals” brought to them by any citizen.
According to the Times of India, pointing out the importance of the cattle in Hindu mythology the Court stated, “No pain or agony should be caused to the animals. Cruelty to animals also causes psychological pain to them. In Hindu mythology, even animal is associated with the god. Animals breathe like us and have emotions. They require food, water, shelter, normal behaviour and medical care.”
“Gaushalas or cow sheds for cattle”
The Court asked the village level and district level authorities to construct “gaushalas” or shed for stray cattle, keeping “scientific lines” and “comfort of animals to be housed there” into consideration.
Addition to that the bench said that “no commercial charges should be there for supplying the electricity and water connections” in the cow sheds. The bench also requested the religious head to ensure the construction of such shelters.
Formation of “special squads” for cattle protection in the Kumaon and Garhwal divisions of the state has been ordered as well.
In a previous hearing, on July 4 the high court had declared the “entire animal kingdom, including avian and aquatic creatures” as legal entities, capable of defending themselves in courts. This would mean that both animals and birds will have legal rights the same as a “living person”. However, many environmental activist and lawyers are divided on the court’s ruling.