The Delhi Police have booked animal rights activist and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Maneka Gandhi and her NGO for allegedly restraining a pet shop owner from running his business.
"The Delhi Police have registered a case against Maneka Gandhi and the PFA (People For Animals) under section 451 (trespassing) and 34 (acts done by several people in common intention) of the Indian Penal Code," Imtiaz Ahmed, counsel for the pet shop owner Ashok Pratap Rai, said.
He added that they have the copy of the first information report (FIR) registered by the state crime branch earlier this week.
According to Rai's complaint, on May 21 last year, five men from PFA, posing as officials of the wildlife department, barged into his shop in Mehrauli in his absence and accused his wife of running an illegal establishment. The PFA men said that the shop was trading in birds and animals covered by the Wildlife Protection Act.
Rai, however, maintains that his business was not violating any law under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, as the the birds and animals he deals in are not covered by the Wildlife Protection Act.
Later, an official of the wildlife department also vouched that the animals kept by him were not covered under the act and his shop does not need a licence to operate.
Rai moved the high court to register a case. The court took cognisance of the matter and issued notices to Maneka, the PFA and the Delhi Police, asking for a reply in the matter. Rai, in his petition, also challenged the 'raid' by the NGO employees.
"Under Section 32 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, only a police officer of a specified rank or any person authorised by the state government on his behalf and having a reason to believe commission of offence under the Act has power to enter and search a place. Neither the NGO run by Maneka nor the intruders sent by her were authorised to conduct such a raid," Rai said.