Delhi High Court Directs Centre To Comply With Law While Transporting Camels For Participation In Republic Day Parade
While taking the right course of action, the Delhi High Court has in an extremely laudable, landmark, learned and latest judgment titled Scouts and Guides for Animals and Birds vs Union of India & Ors. in W.P.(C) 2045/2022 that was reserved on August 30, 2022 and then finally pronounced on September 2, 2022 has directed the Central Government to ensure strict compliance of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 as well as the amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 as well as the amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (The Transport of Animals) Rules, 2020 while transporting camels to the city for the purpose of their participation in Republic Day parade. A Division Bench comprising of Hon’ble The Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Hon’ble Mr Justice Subramonium Prasad also directed the Animal Welfare Board of India, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways as well as the Border Security Force to ensure strict compliance to ensure strict compliance of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) read with the Rules governing the field in the matter of transport of camels. The Court thus disposed of a PIL filed by a trust namely Scouts and Guides for Animals and Birds alleging transportation of camels into the city from the State of Rajasthan in violation of the statutory provisions as contained under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. It must be noted that the petitioner trust had stated that every year during the Independence Day Parade, large number of camels are transported in goods carrier subjecting them to cruelty and that despite submitting various representations from time to time to various authorities, they have not been looked into!
At the outset, this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment authored by Hon’ble The Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma for a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court comprising of himself and Hon’ble Mr Justice Subramonium Prasad sets the ball rolling by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “The petitioner before this Court – a Registered Trust, has filed the present writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and is represented by Mr. Naresh Kadyan, who is its Founder Member. The Trust aims in social work working deeply towards animal welfare and other causes in favour of society at large.”
To put things in perspective, the Bench envisages in para 2 while dwelling on purpose of the petition that, “The petitioner Trust has filed the present writ petition alleging transportation of camels into the State of Delhi from Rajasthan in violation of the statutory provisions as contained under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The petitioner has stated that every year during the Independence Day Parade, large number of camels are transported in goods carrier subjecting them to cruelty and the petitioner has submitted various representations from time to time to various authorities, however, they have not been looked into. The petitioner has also stated that he has submitted various applications under the Right to Information Act in respect of the procedure adopted by the respondents for transporting the camels and the same reveals that the camels are being transported from Rajasthan to Delhi in different vehicles violating Sections 3, 11 and 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 along with Central Motor Vehicles (11th Amendment) Rules, 2015.”
To be sure, the Division Bench then states in para 3 that, “The petitioner has placed reliance on a judgment delivered in the case of Animal Welfare Board of India Vs. A. Nagaraja & Ors., Civil Appeal No.5387/2014 [S.L.P.(Civil) No.11686/2007], and his contention is that action should be initiated against the persons who are subjecting the camels to cruelty while transporting them to Delhi.”
It is worth noting that the Division Bench then points out in para 11 that, “It is an undisputed fact that camels are being transported from Bikaner, State of Rajasthan to Delhi for Republic Day Function. Grievance was raised by the petitioner in respect of transportation of camels. The BSF while transporting the camels issues Expression of Interest (EOI) providing all minute details in respect of the vehicle in which the animals can be transported and the EOI is also on record along with the status report filed by respondent No.2 as Annexure-4. The animals are being transported in specialized vehicle and four camels in sitting position along with accessories and fodder are transported in one vehicle. The EOI makes it very clear that there is enough space in the vehicle which is being used for transport of camels and the BSF has taken all precautionary measures to ensure that the camels are not subjected to cruelty
Be it noted, the Division Bench then enunciates in para 12 that, “The amendment to Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (The Transport of Animals) Rules, 2020 provides for transport of camels and the said amendment is reproduced as under:
“Amendment to Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (The Transport of Animals) Rules, 2020
Insertion of new Chapter VA
Transport of Camels
63-A Rules 57 to 63 shall apply to the transport by rail, road, waterways, sea or air of Camel
(a) A valid health certificate by veterinary officer to the effect that the camel is in a fit condition to transport by rail, road, waterways, sea or air and are not showing any sign of infectious or contagious disease, shall accompany each consignment.
(b) In the absence of such a certificate, the carrier shall refuse to accept the consignment for transport.
(c) The certificate shall be in a form specified in Schedule 12.
(a) Each consignment shall bear a label showing in bold red letters the name, address and telephone number (if any) of the consignor and consignee, the number and type of camels being transported.
(b) The consignee shall be informed in advance about the train or vehicle in which the consignment of camels is being sent and its arrival time.
(c) The Camels should be restrained in the trucks or road or train/rail carrier in sternal recumbency i.e. in sitting position and the floor space of 10 x 4’ or 10 x 5’ should be provided to each camel.
(d) It must be ensured that at least 0.5 feet sand/ straw level has been provided as bedding in the detailed/hired vehicle.
(e) It must be ensured that the detailed/hired vehicle is not having any projection or sharp object which may cause any injury to camels during journey.
(f) It must be ensured that Camels are tied with loose cotton rope and a proper pad under legs, cotton gaddi on neck and hump has been kept to avoid injury.
(a) Male and female camels should not be mixed. Young animals may be transported together with mother camel.
(b) Furious/ aggressive camels should not be mixed with other docile camels. Apprehensive/ furious animals may be administered sedative drugs under supervision of any qualified veterinary officer before loading/ unloading.
(c) Camel shall be loaded after being fed and given water adequately, watering arrangements shall be made on route and sufficient food carried to last during the journey.
(d) Veterinary first-aid equipment shall accompany all batches of Camel.
(e) Adequate ventilation shall be ensured.
(f) Suitable ramps and platforms, improvised where not available, shall be used for loading and unloading Camel.
61 For the transport of camels by rail, the following precautions shall be taken
(a) Camels shall be transported by passenger or mixed trains only;
(b) The floor space and restraining guidelines should be followed as mentioned for transport by truck or road as specified in 63 B.
(c) Every wagon shall have two attendants if the camels are more than two in number;
(d) It must be ensured that all the emergency veterinary medicines have been made available to Livestock Assistant or veterinary nursing assistant detailed with camel contingent.
(e) No nails, metallic projections, sharp edges are exposed on the vehicles/railway wagon.
(f) It must be ensured that adequate ventilation facility is available for camels and camels are not subjected to direct heat during the journey.
62 For the transport of camels by waterways/ sea the following precautions shall be taken
(a) Camels should be secured in loose condition and a floor space of 500 square feet per camel should be provided to each camel.
(b) Camels are best transported in upper deck of the shipment.
While travelling/ moving the animals on foot following precautions shall be taken
(a) Severely emaciated, weak, dehydrated, blind in both eyes, animals with signs of severe injury or distress or last 4 weeks or pregnancy should not be allowed to travel/ move on foot.
(b) It must be ensured that camel has been allowed to march with slow pace to warming up and subsequently moved to faster pace to avoid sprain and lameness.
(c) It must be ensured that leg of camel doesn’t land up in pits made by rats/ foxes which may cause fracture or lameness.
(d) It must be ensured by rider that camel crosses the sand dunes very slowly.
(e) It must be ensured by camel contingent in charge that after journey of one hour a short halt has been provided to camels for urination.
(f) Night marching must be preferred, to avoid cases of heat shocks in summer and in nights camel can be allowed to cover longer distances.
(g) In summer the camels should be allowed to march during early morning /evening hours.
(h) As far as possible stony and metal roads should be avoided to prevent foot pad injuries.””
Needless to say, the Bench then mentions in para 13 that, “The aforesaid statutory provision of law makes it very clear that Rules have been framed on the subject and transport of camel has to take place strictly in consonance with the statutory provisions governing the field.”
As we see, the Bench then observes in para 14 that, “Learned counsel for the respondents/ UOI was fair enough in stating before this Court that the transportation of camels is taking place as per the statutory provisions and they will ensure that no violation of any statutory provision takes place in respect of the transportation of camels and they will strictly follow the SOP framed by National Research Centre of Camel, Bikaner.”
Most significantly, the Division Bench then minces absolutely no words to unequivocally state in para 15 what constitutes the cornerstone of this remarkable judgment holding that, “In the light of the aforesaid status report, as the respondents have been taking all care and precaution in transporting the camels and are also following the statutory provisions, this Court is of the considered opinion that no further orders are required to be passed in the present PIL. However, it is made clear that the respondents shall ensure strict compliance of the amendment to Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (The Transport of Animals) Rules, 2020 while transporting the camels in future also for the purpose of their participation in Republic Day Parade, or any other purpose also. In case of transporting of camels, the respondents shall also ensure that the statutory provisions as contained in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 are not violated. The Union of India, the AWBI, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways as well as the BSF shall ensure strict compliance of the SOP read with the Rules governing the field in the matter of transport of camels. Any deviation in the matter of transport of camels shall be viewed seriously by this Court. In case the SOP or any statutory provision is violated in future while transporting the camels, the petitioner shall certainly be free to bring the same to the notice of this Court.”
Finally, the Division Bench then concludes by directing in para 16 that, “With the aforesaid directions, the PIL stands disposed of.”
In conclusion, we thus see that the Delhi High Court has taken a very brilliant, bold and balanced stand on the key issue of transportation of camels by directing most commendably that the Union of India, the AWBI, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways as well as the BSF shall ensure strict compliance of the SOP read with the Rules governing the field in the matter of transport of camels. The Delhi High Court thus made it absolutely clear that any deviation in the matter of transport of camels shall be taken most seriously. So it thus merits no reiteration that the same must definitely be complied with in totality!