Taking serious view of Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre, New Delhi, not complying with Jhajjar court directions of releasing 59 camels to their owners and rather demanding Rs 28.55 lakh from owners to take care of the animals, the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Jhajjar superintendent of police (SP) to register an FIR in the case.
The division bench comprising acting chief justice Jasbir Singh and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain directed the SP to register a case against the centre, Gaurav Gupta, a volunteer of a non-government organisation (NGO) linked with the centre, and two others.
The SP has also been directed to probe the role of sub-inspector Sandeep Kumar, investigating officer (IO) in the case.
"Sequence of events show that they have shown no respect to the JMIC's (judicial magistrate first class) orders issued on January 17. Attempt was made to circumvent order by taking one plea or other," the court said.
It further added that when the owners of camels approached the animal care centre, Rs 28.55 lakh were demanded from them before releasing the camels.
"It is mindboggling. It appears that animals were kept in some 5-star hotel and their (centre) reports show that animals are now sick. Stand of authorities is not justified," the court said.
The court also observed: "The IO has acted against the law as he had no authority to hand over animals to a stranger, even if no facility of keeping them at Jhajjar was available. He should have taken permission from the court." However, the court found that in the SP's inquiry report, the IO has been exonerated, stating that he was not at fault.
The case would now come up for hearing on July 11.
It was on December 28, 2012, that an FIR in the case was registered at a Jhajjar police station against seven persons on allegations of Gaurav Gupta under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
The seven persons were taking 68 "sick and injured" camels from Jhajjar to Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh after purchasing them from a trade fair, it was alleged.
However, Sandeep Kumar, the IO in the case, had granted custody of camels to Gaurav Gupta on December 27, 20120, who had transported them to Delhi on January 1, 2013, and further to Rajasthan for "treatment and care". Nine camels had died in Delhi.
The chief judicial magistrate (CJM), Jhajjar, had written a letter to the high court in April, of which the high court had taken suo motu notice. The CJM had mentioned that the NGO and Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre had failed to release animals to the owners despite the court directions. The magistrate also raised questions on the functioning of the Jhajjar police in helping the NGO.
The CJM had also mentioned that recently "248 animals were misappropriated by the same NGO in the similar clandestine manner and a court in Delhi has ordered the registration of a case against the NGO."