July 27, 2018
Furious on finding the poor quality of birds supplied in the market by poultry farms, Bombay High Court lashed out at the Department of Animal Husbandry for not paying proper attention to the animal health and poor hygienic conditions prevailing at the farm.
The dept was warned on its floppy way of regular inspections of the farms and ensuring that only healthy birds were brought to the markets in the state adhering strictly to the orders of the High Court.
The bench of Justices Naresh Patil and Girish Kulkarni at the Bombay High Court were upset over the issue and bombarded at the dept saying, “You (department) cannot run away from your responsibilities. We fail to understand why the authorities cannot enter the poultry farms and inspect the condition of birds, before they are brought in the market”. Justice Patil also added, “Our only concern is that the food which is being made available for the citizens in the markets, must not be contaminated. What if something wrong takes place? Will you continue saying you have no authority to inspect birds in poultry farms?”
The submissions by government pleader Purnima Kantharia got the bench together to put forth the view that the officials of the animal husbandry department weren’t in the power to inspect poultry farms. She also said that the birds were checked after being brought to the market but the court believes that if not checked while in the farm, health check after arrival to the market was of no use.
“There is no point in inspecting the birds when they are already in the markets for human consumption. What if some birds are not checked? The birds must ideally be checked even during their stay at farms.” “You just cannot cite lack of powers and say you cannot enter the poultry premises. You must enter and see how the birds are maintained there and if any probiotic or antibiotic is being administered,” Justice Patil remarked.
After the hearing, Kantharia assured the court that the animal husbandry department will be looking into the issue and the ministry will take a decision on the matter soon. The matter of poor quality of birds was brought to light through a public interest litigation filed by an NGO called Citizen Circle for Social Welfare and Education. The NGO is being represented on the matter by the advocate Shehzad Naqvi who put forth the ‘sorry start of affairs’ of the poultry farms in Maharashtra before the court. The litigation also sought the effective regulation of the poultry farms which are allegedly not under scrutiny and checks.
Next hearing will take place after two weeks and Bombay High Court bench hopes that regular inspections of the farms will be carried out unanimously on the farms. Along with the regulations and quality control, the bench has also asked the authorities to issue an advisory to these farms to strictly follow the norms.