In early August this year, the Bombay High Court at Goa division bench issued a slew of directions to various authorities -- municipalities, village panchayats, police officials and state government departments to tackle the menace of stray cattle.
The High Court, in its order, noted that it had first issued directions back in 2007, that were all but forgotten, not being adhered to and in general being merrily ignored.
Now, two months down the line from the High Court’s reminder about its 15-year-old directions, it appears that history is repeating itself.
“The Chief Officers of such Municipal Councils shall be responsible for ensuring that no stray cattle are squatting on public roads. The Chief Officers must ensure that necessary staff is appointed or designated for monitoring/controlling and removing the stray cattle from the public roads. Such a team must regularly patrol the areas within the jurisdiction of the Councils and take necessary action without waiting for any complaints from the members of the public,” the High Court Justices M S Sonak and Bharat Deshpande said in his order also directing that the Commissioner of the Capital of Panaji be included in the order.
“The Chief Officer of the Municipal Councils must not only appoint Pound-keepers but also provide pounds where the stray cattle can be lodged and cared for. The Chief Officers must, within one month from today, indicate their telephone number/s or telephone number/s of some designated staff from their Municipal Councils so that the members of the public or the Police Patrolling/beat vehicles can intimate such staff, the Chief Officers or the staff members about the stray cattle on the public roads,” the High Court also said.
“The Director of Municipal Administration and the Director of Panchayats must ensure, within three months from today, that the Police, Municipal Councils, the Corporation of the City of Panaji and some of the Panchayats where the issue of stray cattle is acute, set up to monitor, a dedicated 24 X 7 helpline to receive calls and complaints about the stray cattle on roads,” the High Court said adding that the authorities also need to deploy a a central, official WhatsApp account linked telephone, via which concerned citizens may intimate or send photographs of squatting stray cattle along with their location.
“The same shall, as soon as practicable be forwarded to the relevant authority within whose jurisdiction the cattle are found. If such intimation discloses a specific infraction, it shall be recorded as a complaint and processed accordingly. The concerned authorities must maintain a record of such complaints and the status thereof,” the High Court said.
Turning to the Police Authorities, the High Court directed that they must keep a vigil for stray cattle on public roads especially during their regular patrolling especially during the night.
“The Police Authorities must, at least telephonically inform the designated staff members or the Chief Officers of the Municipal Councils and the Panchayats so that immediate action is taken. The Police must also verify whether action is taken on their intimation and make necessary reports to the Director of Municipal Administration/Director of Panchayat in case of failure,” the High Court said.
“The Police Authorities must, henceforth, identify cattle owners whose cattle stray on public roads. Action must be taken against such owners who let loose their cattle on public roads under The Goa Stray Cattle Management Scheme 2013 (Amended) and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Prosecution should also be launched against such cattle owners under the Indian Penal Code,” the High Court said.
To be fair to the listed authorities, the High Court has set a deadline of three months for its order to be fulfilled -- which means that the deadline set in place by the High Court is set to expire on November 8 -- given that the order was passed on August 08 -- leaving a government that is currently busy with organising the national games -- with just two weeks to put in place a comprehensive mechanism to ensure that no stray cattle remain on the streets -- posing a threat to passersby, commuters and innocent children.