The Meghalaya High Court today said that despite its earlier orders to stop the open display of animal meat on the roadside open to the dust and grime, the practice is continuing in and around Shillong.
“Notwithstanding the steps taken by the State, there are several other measures which need to be taken, both in respect of the treatment of animals and to ensure better hygiene. In earlier orders, this court has repeatedly referred to the brazen display of animal meat on the roadside open to the dust and grime. Even in and around the capital city of Shillong the practice continues. Apart from the distressing sight of severed body parts of animals being put on display, the meat allowed to remain in such a state may not be ideal to consume,” the division bench of the High Court said today while hearing the PIL by Gau Gyan Foundation.
“There is also the other matter of how chickens are transported. More often than not a large number of chickens are tied by their legs and hung from bicycle handles or other forms of vehicles, mostly carried upside down. While the animals have, no doubt, been raised to ultimately be culled for food, there is an element of decency that must be maintained. The practice now is one of extreme cruelty,” the court added.
The High Court also asked the State government to issue fresh instructions to provide for means of animal transport within the State and the conditions of such transport. The court’s direction followed the petitioner’s grievance that the instructions of July 12, 2019 regulate the entry of cattle but do not adequately provide for the transportation thereof within the State.
The petitioner suggests that appropriate rules or a memorandum of procedure be drawn up for meetings of the district-level or market-level animal welfare committees to be convened at regular intervals and for the animal welfare organisation representatives to have a forum to hear their grievances in the event that their suggestions are not adhered to or respected by the superior officials on the committees.
“Again, the petitioner is perfectly justified in pointing out such aspect of the matter. Oftentimes, committees are constituted that never meet. Even if such committees meet once in a blue moon, very little comes out of such meetings. The State would do well to look into the various suggestions to set up a memorandum of procedure so that there can be effective implementation of the rules and more ethical treatment of animals, whatever may be the end use thereof,” the High Court said.
As to the seized animals, the State government in its affidavit stated that they would be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017.
However, the petitioner pointed out that under the Rules of 2017, seized animals are required to be preserved in various places and under the conditions that have been indicated in the said Rules of 2017. The petitioner lamented that the State government’s affidavit does not indicate appropriate infrastructure for preserving the animals during the pendency of the cases.
“Again, since it is the State’s obligation and also intent to act in accordance with the rules, no meaningful effect can be given thereto without setting up appropriate spaces for the due preservation of the animals,” the High Court said.
The court however appreciated the measures already put in place by the State government on ethical treatment of animals and encouraged the government to carry on the good work in such regard. The next hearing on the PIL will be held on December 16.