The Meghalaya High Court directed the government to ensure more Hygienic Conditions to be followed by Meat-Sellers.
Though the primary interest of the petitioner in the public interest litigation appears to be the well-being of cattle and how they are brought to animal markets, it is 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. 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 refers to a notification by which the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 have been framed. To the extent the operation of some of the rules remain unimpeded, they must be implemented. The said Rules of 2017 require the constitution of the 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. These minimum requirements cover aspects such as housing, shade, feeding troughs, water tanks, lighting, ramps, veterinary facilities, toilets, provision for disposal of dead animals, provision for ensuring hygiene and removal of manure and bio-waste and separate enclosures for different animals.
The division bench of the Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh said that it does not appear that any mechanism in terms of the said Rules of 2017 has been put in place in the State. 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 court observed that the State is not able to indicate immediately as to whether any steps have been taken here in terms of the said Rules of 2017 or, indeed, if there is any department which may have been entrusted with the responsibility in such regard.
The court stated that it is hoped that an appropriate mechanism is put in place as expeditiously as possible.
The court directed that the State must also ensure that more hygienic conditions are followed by meat-sellers, whatever kind of meat they may be selling. Apart from meat shops openly displaying torn parts of animals, which is often hideous to look at, roadside selling of meat products without the meat kept in any enclosure, notwithstanding the cooler temperature enjoyed in most parts of the State, may not be ideal or advisable.
The court ordered that an appropriate 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.
The court further added that the State should also take appropriate measures in terms of the Transport of Animals Rules, 1978 and Rule 125E of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.
Case title: Gau Gyan Foundation v/s The Union of India & 8 Ors.
Citation: PIL No. 2/2021