Finally, the Indian Supreme Court did not trash the committee's report, responsible for submitting recommendations to check cattle-smuggling to Bangladesh, instead it advised stringent measures by the Indian paramilitary Indian Border Security Force (BSF) to prevent cross-border trade.
The Indian apex court besides the border force, advised the local administrations in the districts bordering Bangladesh to be involved in preventing cattle-smuggling. The Sup-reme Court on Tuesday, directed the Indian central government to finalize the rules to ensure the authorities adopt adequate means to stop cattle-smuggling.
Earlier, a bench of Indian Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chand-rachud said the Center (New Delhi) has already prepared draft rules to prevent cattle from being smuggled to Nepal and same rules, when finalized, should be applicable to Bangladesh as well.
The cattle-smuggling issue was brought to the notice of the Indian Supreme Court by Akhil Bharat Krishi Gosewa Sangh, a fundamentalist Hindu group. A similar plea was filed by animal rights activist Gauri Maulekhi, seeking directions to the Center and states like Bihar, West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, which share the border with Nepal.
The Center on Monday, placed before the apex court recommendation of a committee headed by a senior official of the Home Ministry constituted for chalking out a mechanism to stop cattle smuggling across the India-Bangladesh border.
Emphasizing on the prohibition of smuggling of animals, the Centre said that active support and cooperation should be sought from the public.
The Center on Monday told the apex court that a unique identification number (UID) for animals has been suggested by an expert panel to evolve a mechanism to stop trafficking of cattle across the Indo-Bangla border.
"We have already done for Nepal. The same rules will apply for Bangladesh also. Para-armed forces (BSF) along with district administration will be involved to ensure that there are no smuggling of cattle to Bangladesh," the bench said.
The apex court decided to deliberate on the crucial issue of cattle-smuggling into Bangladesh after the summer vacation in July.
Until then, the counsel for the central government to specify the status of rules which were to be formulated in pursuance of its direction to protect cattle-smuggling to Nepal and posted the matter for further hearing after summer vacation.
The panel, had said, "The committee recommends that Chief Secretaries (in New Delhi) of respective states to regularly monitor the performance of various departments of the state governments, including RTO, state police and animal husbandry department and ensure prevention of cattle smuggling/illegal/transportation of cattle by way of periodic reports.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday, posted the case concerning smuggling of cattle across the India-Bangladesh border for further hearing after summer vacation.
First published in The Asian Age, April 27, 2017
Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow (USA), is an award winning investigating journalist and is Special Correspondent, The Asian Age, Dhaka, Bangladesh