Agri Business

Apex court notice to Centre on plea for preventing cruelty to hen

PTI New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on July 29, 2016


The Supreme Court today sought a reply from the Centre as to why it is not implementing the rules recommended by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) aimed at preventing cruelty to egg-laying hens kept in wire cages in poultry farms.

“Why are you not implementing the recommended rules. Is there some pressure from the poultry industry,” a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur asked the Centre after AWBI, a statutory body set up under the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, said that the department concerned has not acted on the rules recommended by it on caging of hens in 2010 and 2013.

The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, issued notice to the Centre and asked Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh to respond to the petition filed by the Board.

It asked the ASG to take instruction from the authorities concerned as to “what is the reason for delaying the implementation of the rules recommended by the Board“.

The bench, which posted the matter for hearing on August 5, said, “This poultry industry appears to be very powerful.”

The remarks came as senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the Board, said draft rules were recommended twice and latest in 2013 but there was no response from the Centre and perhaps the industry of hatchery and poultry is very powerful as many politicians are in the business.

“The industry may have prevented the government from going ahead with the recommended rules, otherwise why they would not respond to the draft rules,” the senior advocate submitted.

The Board has submitted that hens are kept in wire cages in an overcrowded condition and there is hardly any space for the movement of the birds.

Venugopal said, “In India, we are still following the battery caging system - small wire cages - for housing egg-laying hens,” which was abandoned by the European Union long back.

Under the battery caging system, egg-laying hens are provided the space equivalent of an A-4 size sheet, while in Europe which follows the cage-free system, the hens get space to move around and spread their wings.

He said, “During the breeding season, males become very territorial and guard fixed areas. Dominant males patrol the boundaries of their territory and keep other roosters away from the hens. Subordinate males may occupy areas within the dominant male’s territory, including the roosting area, but without female partners.”

Published on July 29, 2016
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