After remaining stalled for four months, Export
of live goats and sheep from Tuna port on Kutch coast resumed on December
fourth as Gujarat High Court castigated the Customs Department for holding back
shipping bills on the basis of representation of animal rights activists. The Court
cleared the decks for the resumption of exports for livestock.
Two mechanized sailing vessels departed from Tuna
port on December fourth night with around 3500 live goats and sheep. “After
securing clearance from the Deendayal Port Trust (DPT) and Customs Department,
we worked overtime and loaded the livestock on mechanized vessels. The vessels
loaded with sheep set sail for Dubai on December fourth night and the second
vessel a couple of hours later according to a trade representative.
Tuna is the only port in Gujarat besides Mumbai
port on the West Coast, from where live stocks exports are permitted by
government f India.
The trade sources said the export was headed for
Dubai and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. “After the Gujarat High Court
ruled in our favor, the Customs House, Kandla and Deendayal Port Trust officers
helped us a lot. With their assistance, we loaded the livestock overnight and
shipped it within hours. This is a huge relief as finally, we have been able to
honor our supply commitments made to importers in the UAE..
Exporters have been delivering live goats to the
Gulf region regularly for the last four decades. However, the trade had come to
a grinding halt after the District Magistrate of Kutch ordered the suspension
of movement of livestock on August 6 this year on the ground that provisions of
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 were being violated.
A couple of days later, the Directorate General
of Shipping had withdrawn its Special Permission granted to Mechanized vesels
to operate during the month of August. The DM had constituted a three-member
committee to look into the issue and the committee had concluded that the
exporters were violating legal norms. The Kutch District Magistrate had said
that she had acted on the orders of the state government, which in turn had
received complaints from Animal Rights Activists who are advocating a ban on
But the Livestock Exporters Association, an
unregistered organization of livestock exporters of the state, had moved the
Gujarat High Court challenging the Kutch DM’s order which had imposed an
embargo on the movement of livestock in Tuna indefinitely.
The High Court had stayed the DM’s order on
September 18 and cleared the way for exports while directing exports to adhere
to relevant laws. Despite the court order, initially, the traffic department of
DPT had refused permission to exporters but eventually, the DPT also gave green
signal to exporters on October 31, after “consulting Ministry of Shipping.”
However, when an exporter filed shipping bills
with Customs House, Kandla in early November the latter had kept them pending
for clearance, saying informing the exporter through a letter on November 16
that the Department had received representation from Animal Rights Organizations
and that it was looking into them. The exporter, however, moved the HC on
November 20, seeking direction from the Court to Customs Department to clear Shipping
bills for exporting livestock.
Disposing of the petition, the bench of Justices
Harsha Devani and AP Thaker ruled in favor of the exporters observing the
petitioner had complied with relevant laws while seeking clearance for exports.
The Court also wrapped the Customs Department for keeping shipping bills
clearance pending for a long time.
Various representations have been received from
animal activists and that in the light of such representations, it is possible
that the provisions of certain laws have not been followed. In the opinion of
this court, if there is breach of any provision other than the provisions of
the Customs Act and the Import-Export Policy, it is for the concerned
authorities under those Acts to take action in respect of such breach.
The customs authorities are governed by the
provisions of the Customs Act and the Import-Export Policy, and are required to
take action pursuant to the shipping bill filed by an exporter within the four
corners of such law and the policy and restrictions provided there under,” the
High Court bench order said.
“After the High Court ruled in our favor, we had
filed shipping bills afresh on December 3. We got clearance from Customs
Department the very next day and could resume the export,” said the exporter,
adding the consignment shipped had been sourced from Ahmedabad and Rajasthan.
Animal rights activists have been protesting this
year that goats and sheep are exported to Gulf countries for slaughter. They
are also claiming that the exports are hurting the local livestock industry and
families dependent on rearing goats and sheep.