Don’t give temporary custody of seized cattle to those accused of violating Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, HC directs lower courts

‘It has become a practice for the alleged offenders to either sell or kill the animals and then evade participation in the trial’

October 02, 2022 01:11 am | Updated 01:11 am IST - CHENNAI

The Madras High Court has ordered that the subordinate courts in the State should henceforth not grant temporary custody of seized cattle to those accused of having violated the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act of 1960, as it had become a practice for such persons to either sell or kill the animals.

Justice G. Jayachandran made it clear that the seized cattle should be kept under the custody of the nearest ‘Goshala’ (cattle shelter) until the completion of the entire trial and that the cost for maintenance of the bovines must be collected from those facing the case under the PCA Act.

At no point of time, the cattle should be returned to the accused unless ownership gets proved and the charge of cruelty against the animals gets disproved after the completion of the trial, he ordered. It was further clarified that the ‘Goshala’ concerned would have a lien over the cattle till the end of trial.

The orders were passed while disposing of two criminal revision cases filed by Arunachala Animal Sanctuary and Rescue Shelter in Tiruvannamalai. The petitioner ‘Goshala’ was aggrieved against an order passed by a judicial magistrate to hand over the custody of 39 cows to people accused of transporting them illegally.

The ‘Goshala’ preferred an appeal against the Magistrate’s order but a Sessions Court refused to entertain it and led to the present revision. During the course of hearing, it was brought to the notice of Justice Jayachandran that it was mandatory to obtain a transit certificate while transporting animals from one place to another.

In most cases, the transporters fail to carry such certificates. However, after the seizure of the cattle, they manage to get a certificate and claim temporary custody of the cattle. After that, the accused sell or kill the animals and rarely participate in the trial court proceedings, the judge wrote.

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