Police Oppose Animal Vigilantism In HC, Say Gujarat Maligned By Such Disruptive Activities - Vibes Of India

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Police Oppose Animal Vigilantism In HC, Say Gujarat Maligned By Such Disruptive Activities

| Updated: July 2, 2024 10:42

A panjrapole in Ahmedabad, which had moved the High Court alleging violation of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in relation to a vehicle carrying 22 goats days before Eid in June, withdrew its petition after the court came down heavily on it following strong opposition by the police to such a petition.

The police told the court that groups indulging in animal vigilantism “need to be curbed” and that such incidents “portray Gujarat in a bad light nationally and internationally”.

The Seth Anandji Kushalji Khodadhor Panjrapole Sanstha, which had taken custody of the 22 goats, had moved HC through its authorised representative Marutibhai Pavar on June 13, seeking that a June 12 communication by the police — permitting the release of the 22 animals from the panjrapole and handing over the same to the owner after the police found no violation — be quashed.

The HC on June 14 sought a response from the state while ordering that the custody of the goats shall remain with the panjrapole until the next hearing.

The police had found that the pick-up van, owned by a person named Tarikkhan Ubedkhan Pathan, was licensed to carry 17 goats but was instead ferrying 22. Also, the vehicle did not have the required fitness certificate and was thus fined Rs 5,500 under the Motor Vehicle Act.

Following this, the police had communicated to the panjrapole to release the goats to Pathan. The police had also clarified that the panjrapole was given only temporary custody of the cattle.

In an affidavit dated June 25, ACP Sureshkumar Patel of Ahmedabad City Police N division, however, said the panjrapole’s petition is a “glaring example of how the law being misused and challenges faced by police due to such misuse of law”.

He said that a woman volunteer from NGO Namaste Foundation, “having scant regard for rule of law, opted to vigilantism and chose to stop the vehicle and threatened the driver thereafter”. “They (volunteers) were violating multiple traffic laws (triple riding, riding without helmet, etc) as well as wrongful restraining of the vehicle… No private person has authority to stop any vehicle on road… it is submitted that the court may take serious note of these facts and take a strict view against such kind of fake and motivated vigilantism,” the affidavit said.

Maintaining that goat meat is “readily available in various hotels in Gujarat… and is permitted under the law”, the affidavit added: “If we permit such vigilantism, it is going to create serious issues in the society in Gujarat. This will result in unnecessary harassment by vested interests…,” Patel said. He added that “such behaviour has potential to inflame the society and these incidents find fertile ground in times of events like Rath Yatra and Eid”. “Further such incidents portray Gujarat in a bad light nationally and internationally. Thus, these groups need to be curbed,” the affidavit said.

The court of Justice Nirzar Desai came down heavily on the petitioner on Monday. “Court doesn’t want to give leverage to any person who wants to create nuisance value… who are you, why should I hear you? You are a panjrapole, be happy with your animals… You have a limited role to play… in every matter related to animal cruelty, panjrapoles can’t jump and say ‘give custody to me’… you may agitate before the appropriate court… If something is permitted by law, our likes and dislikes are immaterial, we have to go by the law,” Justice Desai said.

After Pathan alleged that the panjrapole was charging Rs 200 per day to keep each goat, thus costing him Rs 4,400 per day, Justice Desai told the panjrapole, “You are extorting money in a sophisticated manner.”

As the court told the petitioner either withdraw the petition or it will dismiss the same with three times the cost, the panjrapole withdrew the plea.

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