Law Commission ‘Report No. 269’ cannot be a reference Document for Indian Poultry Sector

The Commission has drafted ‘The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Egg Laying Hens) Rules, 2017 and The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Broiler Chicken) Rules, 2017’ and recommended the Govt. to implement it. However, Vijay Sardana, explains here that this report is based on imaginary situations and using references to cold climatic conditions which are not relevant to India. He aslo urges Law Commission to reconsider the observation made in the report.

When there is a question of survival and life of the subject, the legal points and the role of authority becomes secondary because nothing is more important than ensuring the survival of the poultry industry itself. Survival is more important than any other agenda.

With utmost respect and dignity, the author has the following submission for the Law Commission to reconsider the observation made in the Report no. 269 (you may download the same from Law Commission website) because the inputs provided to Law Commission are misleading and do not reflect the ground reality and is not based on Indian agro-climatic conditions.

The examples given in the reports do not reflect any information from the Indian poultry sector or from any poultry science institutes of Government of India. This report is based on imaginary situations and using references to cold climatic conditions which are NOT relevant to India.

Courts and Law Commission are very respected organisations but, in this case, it is surprising that not a single technical reference from Indian research systems is used in the report. It seems the team which was briefing the Law commission and those who were vetting the arguments given by various interest parties were not having any technical competency and no working experience with poultry in India. Otherwise, it is not possible that the Law Commission will make such serious errors in the report.

Today, Indian farmers are using best practices and delivering one of the best performances in the world in terms of feed and yield parameters.

Today, Indian farmers are using best practices and delivering one of the best performances in the world in terms of feed and yield parameters.

“Conflict of Interests” is not disclosed in the report
It is our humble request to Law Commission that all the NGOs and agencies those who appeared in the name of animal welfare without any technical justification, experience in poultry sector and without any research done in India, must be asked to disclose their source of information, funding and their utilisation certifications after the forensic audit to disclose conflict of interest.

All the FCRA registered NGOs appeared before Law Commission should be transparent in their funding and must sign a conflict of interest declaration before the Law Commission and Courts of India. There is a serious attempt by the competitors of India to destabilise Indian poultry sector so that Indian cannot enter the world market in a big way and in turn become a net importer of poultry products. These foreign-funded NGOs may be playing their game to facilitate their entry into India by seeking funds. The sources of funding must be disclosed in the public domain.

 

Specific Observations on the Law Commission Report:
The recommendations of the LawCommissionarein conflict to the observations made in the report itself. Let us share a few of them with you.

  1. In para 1.1, Law commission accepts that better welfare means better performance and fewer incidences of diseases. Today, Indian farmers are using best practices and delivering one of the best performances in the world in terms of feed and yield parameters.
  2. In para 1.6 law commission report says that these modifications are based on the provisions of the other countries. This clearly highlights that people advising Law commission on this highly technical subject were either highly ignorant of poultry science or having a vested interest and deliberately misled the Law Commission. It is not scientifically logical to adopt housing systems of cold countries like Europe in hot countries like India. This will lead to massive morbidity and mortality.
  3. Morbidity refers to the unhealthy state of the birds, while mortality refers to the state of being mortal. Both concepts can be applied at the individual level or across a population. For example, a morbidity rate looks at the incidence of a disease across a population and/or ‘geographic location’ during a single year. The mortality rate is the rate of death in a population. The blind adoption of other countries practices will lead to disaster for the welfare of the poultry birds itself.
  4. In para 2.3, it is stated that under the Directive Principles of State Policy, Animal Husbandry must be based on scientific principles. Today, the Indian poultry is working under the scientific and technical experts of the research institutions of India based on their work in Indian conditions with poultry breeds which are suitable for Indian agro-climatic conditions.
  5. In para 2.6, the Law Commission acknowledges that there should not be “unnecessary pain and suffering”. Sir, today, Indian poultry birds are one of the best-performing birds in the world. If they are suffering and sick, can they perform? This is a clear indication that the breeds, housing and national system are optimised for Indian climatic conditions. These cannot be compared blindly with any other cold climatic country.
  6. The fact is that this performance itself is a threat to the countries those who are funding the NGOs to file PILs and destroy the Indian poultry industry so that India should not emerge as global leader in poultry. The rise of India is not in the interest of donors of NGOs.
  7. Indian poultry farmers do respect “Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act 1960”, In fact, they take care of birds more than their own family in all aspects. Please visit many farms and see what farmers are doing to keep birds comfortable in all seasons. There is a misleading perception and far away from the technical facts that confinement of birds as done in India is a cruelty. There are many studies done by Indian poultry research systems have conducted trails in various size of cages and there is no effect on birds’ behaviour and production. It is important to note that these are domesticated birds, and these are not the wild birds which are projected by ignorant foreign-funded NGOs. Domesticated birds are selected over a prolonged period to suit the housing conditions for performance without compromising on their welfare and health needs. This itself is the role of genetic research and genetic science. Ignorant people, in fact, push the society into crisis and mislead the policymakers. We must ask all the NGOs to provide scientific studies done in India and in Indian conditions. Perceptions cannot be the basis of the discussion on technical matters. It is as good as ignorance.
  8. In para 2.18, it is clearly mentioning that OIE is a globally recognised body for animal welfare. If you visit the website of OIE, it is very clearly said that animal welfare is part of animal health and it varies from location to location based on local conditions and types of breeds. All animal welfare issues must be addressed based on ‘sound science’. It seems these facts were not told Law Commission of India or there was a deliberate attempt by vested interests to mislead the law commission and hidethese fundamentalscientific facts in the rulemaking process.
  9. It is important to note that OIE is the intergovernmental body and working on Layers and Broiler Animal welfare guidelines. Why foreign-funded NGOs are not keen to wait till these consultations are over? Why this fact was not shared with the Law Commission of India?
  10. In para 2.22, there is mention of EU suggested criteria, but it never says that India must blindly copy cold climatic country practices in hot climate country. The fact is Indian farmers are adopting all these practices better than even Europe that is why we have better performance than most European countries. Our farm practices are recommended by experts and based on Indian breeds and their adaptation to local agro-climatic conditions. It appears that ignorant NGOs are funded by vested interest to destabilise Indian poultry industry. The PILs filed by NGOs are motivated PILs to serve commercial interest of some parties either keen to export poultry products or their unsuitable technologies to India.
  11. In para 3.3, it is well acknowledged that traditional open house poultry farming methods are ineffective due to several reasons and leads to morbidity and mortality.
  12. Unfortunately, these above-mentioned facts were ignored and not a single research-based document under Indian conditions is submitted by any NGO to Law Commission of India. This clearly shows that they have funds to create propaganda against the Indian poultry sector, but they have no desire to study these issues systematically and logically. This clearly indicates that there is a vested interest playing the game and these NGOs are operating like their agenda.
  13. The allegations of quality of feed, use of antibiotics are fed to birds to increase production, etc. clearly indicates lack of understanding of how Indian poultry system is performing. Can we become best to produce in the world with poor quality feed and bad management practices?
  14. Are we saying that there is no antibiotic resistance in the pure vegetarian population? In fact, Western India is predominantly vegetarian society and if Tata Memorial Centre, Bombay is raising issues of antibiotic resistance in humans, it clearly indicates that there any other sources of the problem and definitely poultry is not the cause of this problem.
  15. In para 3.9, another misleading information that hormones are fed to poultry birds, this clearly indicates that NGOs have no idea what they are talking. There is no logic and justification to use hormones in poultry because no one can afford the hormones in the first place. Second, there is no way farmers can insert hormone dosage in thousands of birds because there is no way eggs can be produced by hormones. The fact is, it is not even required for Indian birds because our poultry consumers want small birds. In India, large birds are not prefered by consumers. So, this is nothing but fictitious claims by foreign-funded NGOs to defame Indian poultry industry in the world and to suit their donor’s agenda.
  16. In para 3.10, the Law Commission of India made a disastrous advice without giving any scientific justification and logic that Indian should copy the housing system of cold countries in hot countries. In para 3.3, it acknowledged that free-range farming is not suitable for India. This is a clear case of misleading the Law Commission of India and not sharing the correct technical data with law Commission. There must be investigation who all were involved in drafting this section of the report and what were the references used for making these recommendations.
  17. It is regrettable that when the Law Commission of India says that Rules provided in Annexure-I should be considered. This is a clear case of disrespecting the Constitution of India Article 48, 51A and 253. The only way forward should be science and science which is respected and accepted worldwide.
  18. The fact is rules provided in Annexure -1 seems to be drafted by someone who has no clue of the poultry production system, no experience of administration and no understanding of how rules are made. The proposed rules are absolutely illogical, unscientific and lacks even legal sanctity and justification. On one hand foreign-funded NGOs are submitting misleading rules for cages and on the other hand, they are filing PIL in courts and demanding cages should be banned and only free-range farming should be allowed. This clearly indicates that there is a hidden agenda of these foreign-funded NGOs to destabilise the Indian poultry sector.
  19. There are serious legal and technical flaws in the proposed rules in the annexure of the Law Commission Report:
  • definitions provided in the rules are confusing, cannot be justified and in variance with other laws which will lead to serious of litigations countrywide;
  • registration criteria and systems for millions of farmers operating in a remote area where illiteracy is a common concern is illogical;
  • proposed rules do not even understand the working arrangements and structure of the poultry systems in India
  • there is no mention of bio-security requirements
  • there is no mention of how to rear the day-old chick and how pullets should be managed
  • there is no mention of environmental conditions on the farm and its criteria
  • there is no mention of how to control infestation, predatory animals and infestation control in surrounding areas to ensure health birds;

The fact is there are many issues in poultry rearing which changes from location to location due to climatic conditions and size of the farm. These are not even addressed in the proposed rules.

Law Commission must address the following points:
While addressing the poultry housing issue, the following issues must be addressed on priority:

  1. Today, we do not have a breed which can survive in 45-degree temperature. Who will provide the breeds? Can the Law Commission and Court ensure the suitable breeds before passing the order?
  2. Stray animals like dogs, cats and wild birds are a threat to poultry birds in free range, what is the law to control these stray animals.
  3. Wild birds take shelter on the trees, in free-range trees are not suggested. Can farmers uproot the trees to ensure biosecurity?
  4. In free-range birds, use of antibiotics is very high to fight the growing incidences of the infection. What is the stand of Law Commission on use of antibiotics in free-range farms?
  5. What should be the population density per acres of the free-range poultry farms? Is it feasible for average small farmers to ensure the viability of these farms?

It is the humble request that the Law Commission must withdraw this misleading unscientific report because this is giving a negative impression about the functioning of the Law Commission. It is also requested to launch the investigation to identify the people involved in misleading the Law Commission on this vital subject.

Considering the serious gaps in the Law Commission reports, it is important that courts do not consider this report as an evidence which will affect millions of farmers of India and will hurt food security of India.

I request all the needs of this article to share the same with all policy-makers and media in their respective states so that wider awareness can be created on the technical matters related to animal welfare.