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HC notices on animal cruelty

Ranchi, Jan. 7: Jharkhand High Court today issued notices to the Central Animal Welfare Board, Chennai, State Animal Welfare Board and Deoghar District Prevention of Animal Cruelty Committee while hearing a petition on slaughter of animals at Deoghar’s Baidyanath Dham.

A division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Tatia and Justice Jaya Roy sought to know from the organisations what steps had been taken to prevent cruelty to animals. Earlier, while hearing the petition, filed by advocate Delip Jerath last year, the bench had issued notice to the state, asking it to inform it whether any organisation had been constituted under an enactment to check cruelty of animals in the state.

The state counsel Rajesh Shankar, told the court today that no specific outfit had been formed under the Bovine Animal Prohibition of Slaughter Act, 2005. However, the State Animal Welfare Board has been formed under the Prevention of Animal Cruelty Act, 1960. The state board was constituted vide a notification issued on June 11, 2011, Shankar said.

The counsel further said the state board had constituted its ancillary boards at the district level, which are headed by the deputy commissioner followed by superintendent of police. “It is the duty of the state-level board to monitor work of its units in the districts,” the counsel said.

Jerath, in his petition, claimed that slaughtering of animals was being carried out under the patronage of Baidyanath Dham Mandir Prabandhan Board. The board itself was formed on the orders of the high court in 2001 for smooth functioning of the temple, a popular pilgrimage spot.

The petitioner said that 40 buffaloes and 300 goats were sacrificed at the Kali temple housed within the main Shiv temple on Navami and Dashami of Durga Puja, adding it was in violation of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act besides being a financial burden on the board. A sum of Rs 6 lakh is sanctioned by the board for slaughter of animals on an annual basis.

He further pleaded that the money could be used for productive purposes like setting up orphanages, old-age homes and medical dispensaries for the poor and devotees visiting the temple.

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