The functioning of the Gujarat State Animal Welfare Board came under the scanner of the Gujarat high court on Monday. It sought explanations from the authorities for its alleged failure to achieve objectives.
The bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh Shastri was also critical of the state government’s inaction to deal with the stray cattle on public roads.
Petitioner NGO Ahimsa Mahasang has filed a PIL, alleging that the board has been dysfunctional. It claimed that following its establishment on directions issued by the Supreme Court for the welfare of animals, GSAWB remained only on paper. Its advocate Nimish Kapadia submitted that the board should start functioning per the objectives it was founded for.
Referring to the state government’s withdrawal of the Gujarat Cattle Control (Keeping and Moving) In Urban Areas Bill last month after pastoralist communities mounted pressure, the court said, “This is a serious lapse, and there is no material on record to show that steps regarding the establishment of panjrapols and cattle pounds have been taken.” It ordered the secretary of the department of agriculture and cooperation and the director of the department of animal husbandry to file affidavits within a week, listing steps taken to set up panjrapols and cattle pounds in Gujarat.
The judges also said that the establishment of panjrapols and cattle pounds is not only in accordance with the board’s objectives but would also take care of stray cattle menace.
In the two-day monsoon session of the Gujarat Assembly last month, the Bhupendra Patel-led BJP government scrapped the controversial Gujarat Cattle Control (Keeping and Moving) in Urban Areas Bill, 2022, which was passed in March at the conclusion of the budget session. The government’s proposal to roll back the bill was unanimously passed with the principal Opposition Congress supporting it.
The state government had hoped o tackle the stray cattle menace with the scrapping of the bill, but in vain. There are nearly 1,750 registered panjrapols and gaushalas in the state run by charitable or religious organisations.
The court had earlier directed AMC municipal commissioner to nominate two officers to ensure that the steps assured by the corporation for preventing cattle menace is being taken and to take care of the stray cattle being taken into custody.
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