Uttarakhand HC appoints itself legal guardian of cows in the state


UPSC Mains General Studies Paper II

Topic: Governance, Constitution, Polity

Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.


Why is Uttarakhand High Court in news?

  • The Uttarakhand High Court has appointed itself as the legal guardian of cows in the Uttarakhand state.
  • Uttarakhand has given this judgement recently.
  • It has also issued some directions to the state government in this regard.

What caused Uttarakhand High Court to give this judgement?

  • The judgment came in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Uttrakhand High Court.
  • The PIL claimed that stray cattle were being slaughtered
  • The PIL had also claimed that the waste from a slaughterhouse was flowing into water bodies, posing a health threat to the villagers.
  • The court cited animal welfare law, national and international documents and Hindu religious texts to say that animal welfare was part of “moral development of humanity”.

Uttarakhand HC appoints itself legal guardian of cows in the state

What can be the implications of this judgement?

  • The court can now act as the legal guardian of cows in the state
  • It can keep a tab on all issues related to cows especially its directions with regard to their protection.
  • If the court finds any violations in laws and rules regarding cows, the court can take suo moto cognisance and issue directions to the state.

What are the important directions given by Uttarakhand HC under this judgement?

  • The Uttarakhand HC has directed all civic bodies in the state to construct “gaushalas/gausadans” or shelters/homes for housing cows and other stray cattle within one year.
  • No commercial charges will be levied for supplying the electricity and water connections to gaushalas/shelters.
  • Also, The Uttarakhand HC has directed the state government to register cases against people who abandon cows and owners of cattle found on the streets, roads and public places under the Indian Penal Code, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and Uttarakhand Protection of Cow Progeny Act, 2007.
  • The state government has also been directed to set up a special squad to be headed by an officer, not below the rank of deputy superintendent of police, in both the Kumaon and Garhwal regions with one veterinary doctor to protect cows.
  • The High court has banned the slaughter of cows, bulls, bullocks, heifers or calves in the state
  • The court has also ruled that no person shall sell beef or beef products in any form in Uttarakhand

What is the importance of this Judgement given by Uttarakhand HC?

  • The Uttarakhand High court has had invoked the ‘parens patriae doctrine for cow protection.
  • This is the first time in India that a court has had invoked the ‘parens patriae doctrine in case of cow protection.

What is ‘Parens patriae’  doctrine?

  • ‘Parens patriaein Latin means ‘parent of the country’
  • It is a doctrine that grants the court inherent power and authority to act as guardian for those who are unable to take care of themselves.

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