Stray cattle on Himachal Pradesh Roads

Stray-cattle nuisance on Mandi- Sundernagr NH worsens despite HC orders, causing rise in accidents

SHIMLA-The High Court of Himachal Pradesh might have directed the district administrations and National Highway Authorities to keep the roads in the State free of stray cattle, but it hardly made any difference. The court had ordered the state to make the entire road length free of stray cattle by December, 31, 2014. The Mandi- Sundernagr stretch of National Highway-12 best demonstrates this blatant defiance of court directions. The Honorable High Court is expected to take cognizance of this defiance. Locals in the region are fed up with this nuisance as number of stray cattle continues to grow on the NH-12. Referring to a recent case, the locals told Himachal Watcher that a couple of weeks ago, a stray bull had injured an elderly man while several two-wheel riders have met road accidents in which both men and animals were hurt.

The complainant also shared some pictures as evidence of their allegations.

Cow shelters in himachal Pradesh

Mandi-Sundernagar NH

People abandon their cattle when they grow older. These cattle keep roaming on roads and lead to trouble in traffic and even road accidents.

This trend is contrary to the claims of the government regarding construction of gausadan or cowshelters and keeping vigil on people who abandon their cattle. Stray cattle on Mandi-Sundernagar NH

The court had also directed the State Government to make efforts to aware the citizen about the animal rights. For this purpose, the authorities were supposed to issue public notices in the leading English and Vernacular Newspapers within two weeks.

However, the court orders are not being followed except announcements of construction of a few cow-shelters. No public campaign to preach animal rights among people are visible. There is a huge possibility that funds are already spent on Newspaper or media advertisements.

What Are the Court Orders?

In a order dated 7-10-2014, the HP High Court, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) (CWP No. 6631 2014) filed by the Bhartiya Govansh Rakshan Sanverdhan Parishad, HP, had rebuked the State Government for its insufficient efforts to curb stray cattle nuisance. The court had directed the Superintending Engineers of all National Highways to ensure that no stray cattle, including cows and bulls are found roaming on the roads. The court had further directed Executive Officers of all the Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats and Pradhans of the Gram Panchayats to ensure that all the roads passing through their jurisdiction are kept free from the stray cattle to ensure free and smooth flow of the traffic.

Stray Cow on Himachal Roads

Mandi-Sundernagar NH

The court had directed formulation of a co-ordination committee comprising of the Deputy Commissioner, Superintendent of Police, Government Veterinary Officers/Doctors. This committee was entrusted the responsibility of eradicating stray cattle menace. The Principal Secretary, HP Government, was given clear directions that he’ll be personally liable for the implementation of the orders.

Further, the local administrations of all the districts were directed to construct ‘gaushalas’/ ‘gausadans’ or shelters in their respective jurisdiction for housing cows and stray cattle within a period of six months from the date of order passed. The State government is supposed to fund the construction of shelters. Responsibility of feeding the animals was given to the local authorities.

The order had further directed that all the cattle including cows in M.C. Shimla and Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats and Panchayats should have a tag number to make it easy to trace the owner.

No Govt. Veterinary Officer/Doctor can refuse to treat injured animal

As per the court orders, every citizen has a right to bring to the notice the location of the Cow or stray animal suffering from any disease or injury to Government Veterinary Officer/Doctor, who can’t refuse to treat stray cattle. Show utmost compassion towards stray animals while removing them and don’t use unnecessary force by inflicting pain and suffering on them. Moreover, the court had given the responsibility of treatment of stray animals to the Executive Officers of the M.C. Shimla, Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats and all the Gram Panchayats in their respective jurisdictions.

The petition had pleaded,

There is no proper arrangement for food, medicine and infrastructure for the cows. The cows are found abandoned throughout the State of Himachal Pradesh. The cows are also transported outside the State brutally for slaughtering.

It’s the same PIL in which the HP High Court had directed the Centre Government, in its order passed on July 29, 2016, to enact law prohibiting slaughtering of cow/calf, import or export within six months. However, the order was stayed by the Supreme Court.

Other than various, time to time debates in parliament to judgments of the Supreme Court of India, the HP High Court orders included several references to establish that the “Right to Life” under Section 21 of the Indian constitution extends to all forms of life including animals. Thus, the definition of the Section 21 was expanded considering welfare of the voiceless animals. As per one of such references, the High Court had recited five internationally recognized freedoms of animals.

Five Internationally Recognized Freedoms of Animals

As per the apex court there are five internationally recognized freedoms of animals
1) Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition
2) Freedom from fear and distress;
3) Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort
4) Freedom from pain, injury and disease
5) Freedom to express normal patterns of behavior

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