NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) was in violation of the Supreme Court judgment while issuing an order allowing the bull taming sport Jallikattu during Pongal in January this year and it was constrained to approach the apex court against ministry’s move, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) said in its reply to the show cause notice by the ministry.
The reply by AWBI Chairman Maj Gen (retd) R M Kharb submitted April 6, a copy of which is with the Express, says that he has written to the ministry on December 31, 2015, cautioning it 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 ministry 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 inherent cruel, had held that the Central Government, having accepted AWBI advice in this case, cannot take a contrary stand with consulting the AWBI with regard to July 11, 2011 which bans use of bulls, bullocks as performing animals.
On the ministry’s stand that the role of AWBI is advisory and the Board has been directed to get approval of the Ministry before filing counter-affidavits, Kharb said: “The AWBI is a statutory body and we derive our mandate from the statute from the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.”
“The statute also unambiguously envisages the 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,” he said.
As the ministry to withdraw the show cause notice, the reply says 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. Even in the A. Nagaraja matter (the case that brought ban on jallikattu), we had filed an appeal before the Supreme Court, which we had to do in order to protect the rights and safeguard the interests of animals,” he further added.