SC Closes Proceedings on Lumpy Skin Disease in Cattle, Commends States’ Vigilant Measures

Cattle

The Supreme Court has closed the proceedings in two separate petitions addressing concerns about lumpy skin disease in cattle.

The court acknowledged the proactive measures implemented by the states, particularly in the vaccination of cows and other animals, to curb the spread of the contagious viral infection.

Lumpy skin disease causes fever and skin nodules in cattle, with the potential for fatalities. The disease spreads through various vectors, including mosquitoes, flies, lice, and wasps, as well as through direct contact among cattle and contaminated food and water.

Expressing satisfaction with the steps taken by the authorities, the apex court stated that the proceedings could be closed for now. However, it left the option open for petitioners to approach the Centre or state governments when necessary to address related issues. The bench, comprising Justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta, highlighted the states’ actions, including timely treatment, virus prevention, vaccination efforts, and disinfection measures.

The court also noted measures such as minimal transportation of animals, mandatory health checkups for animals entering from other states, the establishment of test laboratories, increased collection of clinical samples, and the formation of animal welfare boards or committees to implement guidelines and policy circulars issued by the Centre.

In its order issued on November 20, the bench remarked, “We have no reason to doubt that the state governments will take prompt action and give serious consideration to the issues that may be raised by the petitioner(s) in the future.”

The court heard two separate petitions, one filed by a social and animal activist seeking a directive to enact a law for the protection of cattle from lumpy skin disease. The court clarified that it had issued notice to respondents last October to determine whether the Centre had formulated a national health plan to address the epidemic among cows and other cattle caused by the lumpy skin disease virus.

The Union of India and the Animal Welfare Board of India, in their counter-affidavits, asserted that the matter falls within the states’ jurisdiction. They emphasized issuing guidelines and policy circulars, resulting in the vaccination of approximately 8.16 crore cattle. The bench disposed of both pleas after noting the counter-affidavits submitted by states like Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, and Delhi detailing their steps to prevent the disease’s spread and funds allocated for cattle vaccination.

In response to the petitioners’ request for the further expansion of proceedings concerning policies for sustainable programs for indigenous cows compared to crossbreeds and exotic breeds, the court granted liberty to submit a comprehensive representation to the Centre for an appropriate policy decision within a reasonable time.

 

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte