The Theni district administration on Wednesday filed an application before the Madras High Court Bench here urging the court to modify an interim order passed by it on January 10 and relieve the officials of the responsibility of taking care of 132 heads of cattle.

Moving the application before a Division Bench of Justices V. Ramasubramanian and V.M. Velumani, Special Government Pleader B. Pugalendhi said it would be difficult for the officials to rear the cattle in view of the impending Parliamentary elections.

“The government officers have to be deputed to various election-related works. Therefore, it might not be possible for them to take care of the cattle. Already five cows had died due to reasons such as indigestion caused by lack of activity,” he told the judges.

He said the cattle could be handed over to animal welfare activist Joshine Antony who had filed a PIL petition before the court in January alleging that the animals were meant to be transported to Kerala for slaughtering but got stranded in Cumbum in Theni district.

The SGP had no objection even if the court decided to hand over the animals to the two individuals who were arrested by the Cumbum North police, following a complaint lodged by the animal welfare activist, on the charge of attempting to transport the cattle to Kerala.

However, the issue became complicated with the counsel for the activist G.R. Swaminathan and counsel for the two accused A.Velan locking horns over the court handing over the custody of the 132 animals to either of their clients.

“We are not the owners of the cattle. We had only taken the animals for grazing when the police arrested us and seized them. A magistrate court in Theni had in fact passed an order handing over the animals to us. But it could not be executed because of High Court orders,” Mr.Velan said.

On the other hand, Mr.Swaminathan said Theni was the transit point for movement of cattle from Tamil Nadu to Kerala.

The animals got stranded following a ban imposed on such animal transport in Kerala in view of the spread of foot and mouth disease, he added.

Since the counsel sought time to advance elaborate arguments, the judges posted the case for hearing to Thursday.

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