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In a continuing assault on India’s cattle economy, a conflict between the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules 2017 means that animals can be confiscated from transporters or owners and sent to infirmaries or shelters even before a conviction for causing cruelty to said animals.
Dealing with a petition filed by Delhi-based Buffalo Traders’ Welfare Association, the apex bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said, “Animals are a source of livelihood for many. You (the government/police) cannot confiscate the animals without the accused being convicted after a trial.”
The Supreme Court bench has told the government to either amend the law or stay the operation of the Rules. But the former is highly undesirable as it would be in continuity with a tide of regulatory changes and vigilantism that have caused much damage to the cattle trade in recent years, at a time when its growth could instead play a critical role in meeting the goal of doubling farmers’ incomes.