The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea for framing guidelines on the process to be adopted by police at the time of seizure of birds and animals and prohibiting imposition of “inhumane” conditions of tagging and stamping them.
The petition came up for hearing before a vacation bench of justices A K Sikri and U U Lalit who said the matter will be heard after two months.
The PIL was filed by Pet Lovers Association in which senior advocate Salman Khurshid appeared along with another petitioner who has questioned the order of the Gujarat High Court.
However, the bench asked him and another lawyer Imitiaz Ahmed to withdraw the appeal since they were not party to it before the high court which had observed that “even the birds have fundamental right”. It also said that in the appeal, issues of general nature were raised.
It, however, said the other petition in which the issue of law has been raised will be heard after the vacation.
The PIL of the association, which deals in trade of exotic birds, said there is no standard of conduct or manner of keeping birds or animals for trade or as pet provided under the law.
It asked the court’s direction to the government to issue instructions to police officials of all the states, districts and police stations “not to illegally harass” its members who are carrying their trades in accordance with the law.
The plea sought direction to the government and Ministry of Environment and Forests “to frame guidelines for proper treatment and care of seized birds and animals pending disposal of the cases before the courts”.
The petition also sought action against some NGOs for allegedly “misappropriating and illegally retaining birds and animals lawfully belonging to pet lovers and pet shop owners”.
It sought direction that imposition of inhumane conditions such as ringing, tagging and stamping of birds are prohibited.
The plea said that entrusting of seized birds and animals pending disposal of the cases to organisation on animal care is “wholly illegal and without any authority under law”.
“Moreover consequent to the entrusting of such seized birds and animals, such organisations raise bills running into several lakhs from the pet owners for keeping the birds and animals in their custody. This commercial nexus of raising bills by such organisations from the pet owners underlines a deeper malaise that has inter-state ramification,” it claimed.
It said that no successful prosecutions are reported and police are used only for harassing innocent persons.
“Since the seizure involves live animals, many being extremely vulnerable to inappropriate diet and conditions of accommodation, the danger to their well-being is even greater,” the petitioner said.
The petitioner association said earlier the NGOs had seized birds of different pet shop owners and the animals were illegally entrusted to organisations which exploited the pet lovers and owners for commercial benefit.
It said the association and other pet shop owners dealing in trade of exotic birds were repeatedly harassed by the NGO and police who are “consistently indulging in such illegal raids and activities whereby they take away birds and animals belonging to several individuals including the petitioners and thereafter fail to return the seized birds and animals”.