Kerala High Court has come to the rescue of a pet owner who wanted to go out and buy food for his three cats amid the Covid-19 lockdown now in force across the country.
The order should also please those fond of wordplay.
“…while we are happy to have come to the aid of felines in this case,” the court said, “we are also certain that our directions will help avert a ‘CATastrophe’ in the petitioner’s home.”
The order, passed on Monday, was published as a brief report by this newspaper on Tuesday.
N. Prakash, the petitioner, a native of Ernakulam, had approached the high court with a categorical problem. He needed fresh stock of cat food to help his pets see through the lockdown.
Prakash had informed the court that his three cats were used to vegetarian food since he was a vegetarian, so he needed to buy 7 kilos of Me-O Persian biscuits for his feline friends.
But city police had rejected his application for a vehicle pass to go from his home in Maradu to the store in Kadavantra, a distance of about 7km.
The bench of Justices A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar and Shaji P. Chaly said society had “conveniently forgotten” that the planet was home to other species too. “We have conveniently forgotten that the human species is not alone on this planet and that there are other claimants to the bounty that nature has to offer,” the court said in its order.
The bench, in its judgment, also pointed out that it was the duty of every citizen “to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures”.
“To inculcate a healthy respect for other living creatures, and to recognise the rights enuring in them, is thus no longer a matter of choice for our citizenry, but a solemn duty under the Constitution that governs us all,” the court said.
The counsel for the state government said a misunderstanding was probably the reason the petitioner had moved the court.
Additional advocate-general Ranjith Thampan, who appeared for the Kerala government, told the court a pass was not needed to visit a store.
According to guidelines the state police had issued earlier, people with dire need to go out locally to buy essentials can do so between 7am and 5pm with a self-declaration detailing the reason for stepping out of home. A special police pass is needed only for travelling long distances for emergencies.
The police, it appears, rejected Prakash’s application because he didn’t need a pass to travel a long distance.
The additional advocate-general also submitted a statement of facts from the police citing there was no need for a special pass and a self-declaration would have been enough.
Kerala was the first state to feed stray dogs at government expense soon after the lockdown came into force on March 25. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had ordered government agencies and the police to feed the strays amid fears that many of them would die of hunger.
The initiative encouraged more people, including the CPM’s youth wing DYFI, to step up and ensure that stray animals were properly fed.