NEW DELHI: The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), in response to the show-cause notice requested by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), said the ministry was in violation of the Supreme Court judgment in issuing an order allowing the bull-taming sport Jallikattu during Pongal in January this year and was constrained to approach the apex court against the MoEF’s move.
The response written by AWBI Chairman Maj Gen (Retired) R M Kharb submitted on April 6, a copy of which is with Express, says that he had written to the MoEF on December 31, 2015, cautioning the MoEF against issuing a notification allowing the use of bulls in Jallikattu. “We were constrained to take this step because despite the Supreme Court judgment, the MoEF has not sought our opinion in the matter. However, we received no reply to our commitment, and our reply was disregarded,” said the two-page letter.
The notice issued March 28, said that the AWBI has no locus standi to file any matter before any court without seeking prior permission from this Ministry.
Kharb further said that the Supreme Court while holding Jallikattu and other similar events illegal, unconstitutional, and inherently cruel, had held that the Central government, having accepted AWBI advice in this case, cannot take a contrary stand without consulting with the AWBI with regard to July 11, 2011 order which bans use of bulls and bullocks as performing animals.
On MoEF’s stand that the role of AWBI is advisory and that the AWBI has been directed to get approval from the MoEF before filing counter-affidavits, Kharb said: “The AWBI is a statutory body and we derive our mandate from the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. ...The statute also unambiguously envisages the Animal Welfare Board as being a body corporate distinct from the Government, with the power and the right to sue and be sued in its own name. The functions and duties, and the obligations imposed upon us by the Act and by various judgments of the Supreme Court and High Court, is what we have to perform and adhere to.”
AWBI response states that “having been constituted to uphold the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, we have to do so in letter and spirit.”
“It is not our intention to routinely oppose the government, and it is quite incorrect that we have been filing writ petitions in various courts seeking directions/relief against the Government of India,” Kharb said.