Pointing out that the religious beliefs have to be respected and cattle should treated in a humane and dignified manner, the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu sought the report on the number of cattle at the temples and also details of the standard operating procedure that may be in place for the well-being of the cattle.
The bench also appealed to the government to treat such animals in the most ethical manner and as per the intention of the donors till the court dealt the issue in a wholesome manner.
Adjourning the case by six weeks, the bench also recorded the petitioner Rangarajan Narasimhan’s submission that cows that stopped producing milk, male calves and bull that is useless for breeding purposes were disposed of in an unethical manner by sending them to slaughterhouses, much against the religious beliefs of the institutions and the donors.
Appearing as party-in-person in the public interest litigation, the petitioner challenged the GO issued by the HR&CE Department transferring 100 cows donated to the Srirangam temple to undisclosed locations, which, according to him, meant that they have been taken to slaughterhouses. He also submitted that such unethical transfer of cattle has been happening for a long time at all the temples in the State, adding that the HR&CE Depart exploited certain loopholes to issue such GOs for indirect transfer of animals to slaughterhouses.
The counsel appearing for the Srirangam temple administration submitted that the cattle have merely been transferred to other temples and none of them have been sent to slaughterhouses. The Animal Welfare Board of India has also agreed to file a report on the issue.