Division Bench of the State High Court comprising Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur has directed the Deputy Commissioner, Jammu and Commissioner, Jammu Municipal Corporation to complete the process of handing over/taking over the possession of 100 kanals of land for a cattle pound at Keran near Bantalab within a week.
The direction was passed in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an NGO (SAVE) through its Chairperson Devinder Kour Madaan alias Rumpy Madaan seeking closure of 59 illegal/ unregistered milk dairies running within the limits of Jammu Municipal Corporation and also for regulating the functioning of existing 57 number of registered dairies as per the existing norms and guidelines issued by JMC under Section 44(n) of Jammu Municipal Corporation Act, 2000.
After hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with Advocates Suraj Singh and Supriya Chouhan appearing for the PIL whereas Advocate Sachin Gupta for JMC, Senior Advocate M K Bhardwaj with Advocate Vasu for owners of milk diaries and Advocate Amita Khajuria for Food Safety and Standard Authority of India, the Division Bench observed, “on the basis of directions given by this court on November 16, 2017 and November 22, 2017, it appears that many of the unlicensed dairy owners had applied for licenses but their licenses, for one reason or the other, have been rejected by the JMC and a general complaint has been made on behalf of the dairy owners that the State Pollution Control Board is not responding the applications made by them for issuance of no objection certificates”.
The Division Bench accordingly directed the Pollution Control Board to take prompt action on the applications and decide the same one way or the other and not later than two weeks from today.
Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed appearing for the PIL furnished a document to the Division Bench issued by JMC under RTI vide No.MJ/Tech/T/3780 dated December, 12, 2017 whereby the Executive Engineer (T) JMC disclosed that Rs 34,65,374 stands spent for the renovation/repair of Municipal Quarter No.10 (Cattle Pound) at Gandhi Nagar, which was later allotted to Joint Commissioner (A).
“It is highly shameful on the part of JMC to convert a cattle pound into a residential house for accommodating former JMC Joint Commissioner (A) R S Jamwal, who was nearing his superannuation and a gift was given to the former officer at the cost of the rights of the animals”, he said.
He also drew the attention of the Division Bench towards the growing movement of stray cattle on the roads of Jammu city and also pointed out remissness on the part of the Jammu Municipal Corporation in not taking action against the owners of the stray cattle. At this stage, a battery of lawyers present in the court room also highlighted this concern before the Division Bench.
Division Bench observed, “this court has also noticed that city of Jammu and particularly within the limits of JMC, has a large number of stray cattle. One of the estimates, which have been indicated before this court, was around 2000 to 2500 stray cattle. In so far as the registered dairies are concerned, there is already a provision in law for all the cattle being tagged. This would ensure the identity of the cattle. However, insofar as the stray cattle are concerned, there is no such tagging policy”.
Division Bench issued directions to the JMC to place before the court on the next date a comprehensive plan for tagging of stray cattle and also a report with regard to the inspections made by them in connection of tagging of cattle in registered dairies.