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Delhi HC appoints court commissioner for inspecting dairy colonies
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has appointed Court Commissioner for the inspection of 10 designated dairy colonies in the national capital, where about 1 lakh buffaloes and cows are used for commercial milk production.
The bench of Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sachin Datta in an order passed on March 23, 2023 directed inspections to be carried out by a Commissioner appointed by the Court - Advocate Gauri Puri - alongside the petitioners and Respondents. The Bench also observed, "Needless to mention, in case, any violations are noticed at the time of inspection by the team led by the Court Commissioner, the parties will take appropriate action in accordance with law."
It has been alleged by the petitioners that these dairy colonies are wrought with violations of central and State-level statutes which all dairy owners are required to abide by and the various government authorities are required to enforce.
The three petitioners - Sunayana Sibal, Asher Jessudoss and Akshita Kukreja are alumni of the Ahimsa Fellowship. They were represented by senior advocate Vivek Sibal.
The Respondents include the Delhi government, Delhi Urban Development Department, Animal Husbandry Unit of Delhi, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Delhi Pollution Control Committee, Municipal Corporation of Delhi and Delhi Police.
The petitioners visited the dairy colonies and reported violations to the statutory authorities, seeking action in compliance with the law; however, this was of no avail.
Through the petition, petitioners highlighted alleged violations including gruesome animal cruelty such as tethering with extremely short ropes, intense overcrowding, animals made to lie on their own excreta, unattended and festering injuries and diseases, starving of male calves, mutilation of animals, etc.
The petition also pointed towards heaps of rotting carcasses and excreta at several spots in the colonies and carcasses of calves dumped on public streets, leading to fly infestation, and mosquito breeding.
The non-therapeutic administration of antibiotics and the administration of injections of a spurious drug suspected to be Oxytocin were also highlighted. Oxytocin is a hormone used to induce labour pain in women and causes painful contractions in the buffaloes to increase milk letdown.
The petitioners stated that maimed, mutilated, and injured animals can be seen in unfathomable numbers. The gross environmental pollution and grave public nuisance due to poor waste disposal practices and endangerment of public health as a result of flouting several food safety norms were also highlighted.
Senior counsel Vivek Sibal submitted before the Bench that in spite of notices being issued in September 2022, most of the Respondents had not filed their reply to the Petition. He emphasized that huge damage is being caused to both the animals and the environment due to the inaction of the Authorities.
Petitioner Sunayana Sibal stated, "These animals are artificially inseminated and bred; their existence is contingent on our whims and fancies of larger, faster chains of milk production. They spend their entire lives tethered to a single spot where they die painfully, as well."
None of the infrastructure mandated by law was complied with and the animals were denied the bare minimum. The real cost of milk excludes heavy externalities - the cost of attending to the basic needs of or providing medical attention to these animals. The real cost of milk does not include the costs to public health caused by unsafe milk, the costs of the environment by gross pollution created by non-compliance of laws at these dairy colonies, the plea said. (ANI)