HYDERABAD—The High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad has impleaded at least 17 elected representatives of Andhra Pradesh for the deliberate violation of the ban on cockfighting as well as encouraging gambling and the sale of illicit liquor. Despite the Court reiterating the ban in December 2016 and again in January 2018, large scale cockfighting took place in various districts of Andhra Pradesh in 2017 and 2018. Humane Society International/India has been campaigning to end cockfighting in Andhra Pradesh, and assists in legal intervention against the cruel and illegal practice.
The 17 public representatives include a member of Parliament, members of the Legislative Assembly, and members of district and village councils.
N. G. Jayasimha, managing director of Humane Society International/India, said, “We welcome the order of the Honourable High Court. It is high time that legislators are held responsible for not only disobeying the law themselves but also misguiding the public and getting them to do the same. A practice that glorifies so many illegal activities should have no place in a civilized society.”
Important points from the High Court order with case no: W.P. (PIL) No.320 of 2014 and W.P. (PIL) M.P. No.305 of 2016 IN W.P. (PIL) No.177 of 2016:
1. Government of A.P. shall, at the earliest and in any event not later than 31 January 2017, constitute Societies for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in all Districts of the State of Andhra Pradesh strictly in accordance with the 2001 Rules.
2. The District Collectors of all the Districts, more particularly of West Godavari, East Godavari, Krishna and Guntur, shall constitute joint inspection teams, for each Mandal in their respective Districts, consisting of a police officer not below the rank of Sub-Inspector of Police, the Tahsildar, and a representative of either the Animal Welfare Board of India or a member of a non-governmental organization espousing the cause of animals or persons involved in the prevention of cruelty to animals. Two police constables and a photographer shall assist each of these inspection teams, which shall be constituted on or before 07 January 2017. These joint inspection teams shall be provided necessary assistance by the District Administration to tour all villages in their Mandal and identify playgrounds/cock-pits where such events are proposed to be held.
3. The District Collector/the Commissioners of Police/Superintendent of Police of the District, on being informed of the places where such playgrounds and cockpits have been formed, shall take immediate action to ensure that such playgrounds are not utilized for conducting cockfights, if need be, by exercising powers under Section 144 Cr.P.C.
4. The Joint inspection team shall be entitled to seize instruments used or intended to be used for the cock fights, and any money which may have been collected towards betting at such events.
5. All the District Collectors, the Commissioners of Police and the Superintendent of Police, more particularly from these four Districts, shall ensure effective implementation of the provisions of the 1960 and the 1974 Acts. They shall be held personally responsible for lapses, if any, on their part in ensuring its proper and effective implementation during the ensuing Sankranthi festivals.
6. The District Collectors and the Superintendents of Police may, if need be, organize village level meetings to inform the general public of the provisions of the 1960 and the 1974 Acts, the need to ensure its effective implementation, and to prevent cruelty to animals i.e., cocks/roosters.
7. As held by the Supreme Court, in Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja: (2014) 7 SCC 547, the District Collectors, the Commissioners of Police and the Superintendent of Police shall be entitled to take disciplinary action against the erring Tahsildars and Police officers for their failure to ensure effective implementation of the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
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