Mumbai News

Bombay HC seeks Maha govt’s reply on withdrawal of cases against ‘illegal’ bullock cart race organisers – India Today

A plea was filed by animal rights activist Ajay Marathe against a government resolution (GR) that allowed withdrawal of cases lodged against persons accused of organising “illegal” bullock cart races.

Mumbai,UPDATED: Dec 1, 2022 23:01 IST

File photo of the Bombay High Court.

File photo of the Bombay High Court.

By Vidya :

The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government and its animal husbandry department to reply to a plea raising issues about a government resolution (GR) that allowed cases lodged against persons accused of organising “illegal” bullock cart races to be withdrawn based on the decision of a committee.

A lawyer representing animal rights activist Ajay Marathe Marathe told the court that the GR effectively takes away the power of a public prosecutor to apply his mind on a case-to-case basis and decide according to the severity of the crime and its impact on society. The lawyer submitted that according to the GR, a regional committee would be formed under the commissioner of police who will then decide which cases have to withdraw or not and the public prosecutor will merely inform the court.

The lawyer further said that the committee gave blanket approval for withdrawal of cases while it was the Public Prosecutor who must apply his mind and not the Committee on a case-to-case basis.

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The plea stated that as per the GR, the prosecutor would merely seek directions from the court “without any application of mind” and the same is against the law.

The bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Abhay Ahuja then asked the government pleader, PP Kakde, that when even for withdrawal of cases against Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assembly permission is sought from the High Court, then how can this be done without following the laid down procedures.

Kakade said that the state has issued a corrigendum in the GR, which stipulated that the public prosecutor would take appropriate decisions.

However, the bench noted that the corrigendum prima facie does not take care of petitioner’s grievance and sought affidavits in reply from the state within three weeks. Seeking rejoinder from the petitioner by January 6, the bench posted the plea for hearing on January 12.

The PIL claimed that the GR is against Section 321 (withdrawal of prosecution) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and Supreme Court guidelines.

“If the offenders are let go without prosecution and (remain) unpunished, the instances of cruelty against animals and violation of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act… will increase further and defeat the purpose of the Act…” Marathe’s plea stated.

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