Illegal Transportation Of Animals| Vehicle Owner Is Jointly And Severally Liable For Treatment And Care Of Animals: Bombay HC
The Bombay High Court has recently upheld the directions of a Trial Court requiring the owner of the truck to share the cost of maintenance of animals for their illegal transportation and treating animals with cruelty. The High Court has said that the vehicle owner is jointly and severally liable for the cost of treatment and care of animals.
A Bench of Justice Prakash D. Naik refused to entertain the plea filed against the directions issued by a Judicial Magistrate requiring the vehicle owner to pay jointly and severally with the accused and the owner of the buffaloes an amount of Rs.96,625/- towards maintenance and health inspection of the animals and amount of Rs.200/- per day per animal till the final conclusion of the trial.
A First Information Report (FIR) was registered for treating animals with cruelty and their illegal transportation under Section 11 of the Maharashtra Protection of Animals Act, 1976, and Section 192-A of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. The vehicle and the animals were taken in custody.
The police rescued buffaloes and handed over their custody to Gaushala for preservation and care, on an intervention application filed by Dhyan Foundation, a social organization looking after the welfare of the cows.
An application before the Judicial Magistrate was filed seeking the return of the vehicle which was hired for transporting the buffaloes.
The Magistrate directed interim custody of the vehicle to the vehicle owner on execution of Supurtnama Bond of Rs. Ten Lakhs on certain conditions. Moreover, the Magistrate directed that accused / owner / vehicle owner are jointly and severally liable for the cost of transport, treatment and care of animal.
Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017, the accused / owners / owner of vehicle are liable to pay the amount of maintenance towards transport, medical, fodder, care etc. of all the Buffaloes.
The Revision Application preferred by the vehicle owner against the decision of Judicial Magistrate was rejected by the District & Sessions Judge.
Advocate Atharva Dandekar, appearing for the petitioner submitted that the order requiring the vehicle owner to pay the amount of maintenance is illegal as he had no connection with the accused and committed no cruelty to animals. It was argued that the vehicle owner was not involved in purchase and sale of animals and the truck belonging to the petitioner was hired for transporting the animals. Hence, the vehicle owner cannot be compelled to pay maintenance cost towards the animals.
On the other hand, APP A.R. Patil opposed the plea on the ground that several animals were loaded in the truck and were tied to a rope causing harm to them. The provisions of Rules 3, 4 and 5 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017 were relied upon, inter-alia, contains provision of custody of animals pending litigation, cost of care and keeping of animals pending litigation and execution of bond.
The Bombay High Court held that "although the petitioner is the owner of the vehicle, he cannot be absolved of his responsibility to pay the amount towards maintenance and health inspection of animals in accordance with rules, as stated above the petitioner can be directed to pay the amount towards maintenance, health inspection and future amount of Rs.200/- per day per animal being the owner of the vehicle".
The High Court, considering the overall facts, found no merits in the contention of the petition filed by the vehicle owner and dismissed it.
Cause Title- Altaf Babru Shaikh v. The State of Maharashtra And Anr.