Author: Nayantara Malhotra
In Re: Smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species of birds [WPA 10138 of 2020 With IA No.: CAN 1 of 2020], a Division Bench [Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan, CJ. and Arijit Banerjee, J.] of the High Court of Calcutta (“Court”), by its order dated December 8, 2020, prohibited capture of birds without mature flight feathers.
The Court, in its suo motu case, took note of the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet shop) Rules, 2018 (“Pet Shop Rules”) which prohibit sale of certain pet animals. The Court noted that ‘pet birds’ fall under the definition of ‘pet animal’ under Rule 2(1)(j) of the Pet Shop Rules. The Court further noted that from a conjoint reading of the Pet Shop Rules, it can be inferred that pet shops could be operated only for those pet animals whose ownership and trade is not prohibited under any other law. The Court pointed out that these provisions reinforce the constitutional and legislative command which prohibits unlawful capturing of birds.
In respect of protection of migratory birds, the Court observed that “The geographical territories or terrain from which the migratory birds may move would not at all be relevant to provide protective umbrella of the Constitution of India and the Statues falling under it for the succour to and management of the fauna which fly in of their own. This is how the provision of the Constitution will have to trickle down and operate”.
In view of the above, the Court observed that “The Pet Shop Rules, particularly the different clauses in sub-rule 2 of Rule 7 read with Rule 2 (1)(p) read with Clauses (a) & (c) of Section 2 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, clearly establish that an offspring of a bird that has not attained the age at which it clearly acquires independent survival skills to meet its basic needs like food, warmth and safety and, further, birds without mature flight feathers cannot be captured for the purpose of trading in any form”. The Court also directed the state authorities to ensure compliance with laws dealing with prevention of cruelty to animals and birds, in particular, those birds whose capture and utilization is prohibited under the Pet Shop Rules
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