The Cattle-trespass Act, 1871

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In the period of British rule in India, the present Act was enacted as ‘the Cattle-trespass Act, 1871’ (Act no. 1 of 1871) by the Governor General of India in Council. The ultimate aim and object for which the present enactment was provided is for consolidation and amendment of the law relating to Trespasses by Cattle. From the year 1950, the provisions of this Act were extended to the entire territories of India, however, the territories comprising of part- B States immediately before the November 1st, 1956 and also the State Government’s notified presidency- towns and other local areas were excluded from such application and extension. The provisions of this Act were divided into eight important chapters.

The first chapter was making preliminary provisions in the Act containing short title as aforesaid, which was substituted for original by the Act of 1891 and also the same chapter dealing with provisions as to extension of the Act as afore discussed. Beside such short titling and extension, the said chapter is also providing for interpretational clause, where certain terms being significant in the Act were defined for better interpretation of the provisions of the Act.

The Act makes other significant provisions in its second chapter, at the first instance the establishment of Pounds was given as within the place directed by the District Magistrate after being subjected to the State Government’s general control. And for using such Pounds by the Villages, the said District Magistrate is empowered to determine, as the said Pounds will be under his control. And for rate fixing and alteration thereof as charges for feeding and watering cattle which will be impounded therein, the said District Magistrate is empowered. Apart from this, the State Government is having authority for appointing a Pound- keeper for each of such Pounds. Such Pound- keepers were made entitled to hold other offices, where other offices under the Government can also be held by them, as the same time. Also such Pound- keepers were sought to be treated as public servants. The Act enumerate certain duties of such Pound- keepers, where keeping registers, furnishing returns to that Government, entering into the register the instances of seizures and given instances in relation thereto and taking charge of the cattle, feeding and water the cattle, were specifically mentioned.

The next chapter being Chapter III of the Act makes provisions as to impounding of cattle. The cattle trespassing and doing damage to the crop or produce on the land which was cultivated, occupied, or in respect of which the advances made for cultivation of such crop or which was purchased or mortgage held by a person, who is here entitled to seize such cattle. And on such seizure of the cattle the persons as aforesaid were required to send them to the Pound located nearer to the land situated place, within the period of 20 hours. For aiding such seizures, the officers of the Police are required to aid such seizures. Similarly, in cases of damage to the public roads, canals, etc. also such impounding of cattle can be done under this Act. And there will be imposition of fines in relation to such impounding as per the prescribed scale by the State Government.

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The procedure on payment of such fine by the Owner of the cattle is prescribed under chapter VI’s provisions, where the pound -keeper will deliver such cattle claimed by the Owner on payment of fine and charges incurred in respect of such cattle and such owner or his agent, if any, will be required to sign a receipt for them in the register maintained by the pound-keeper. And if such cattle were not claimed within a week time, then the Officer- in- charge of the Police station nearer to the place or any persons appointed by the District Magistrate will be informed and reported by the Pound- Keeper and such officers will be responsible to past a notice in relation thereto to the conspicuous and also by beat of drum in the Village for declaring such impounding and will ask to make claims by owners. And even after 7 days of such notice or proclamation, the cattle were not claimed, then they will be sold in the public auction by such officer.

Apart from this aspect, the illegal seizure of cattle or detention thereof are dealt with in the next chapter, where persons feeling victim can make complaint applications within the prescribed time to the District Magistrate or any authorized Magistrate. And there is also provision for compensating the persons being victim of such illegal seizure or detention.

 And for penal provisions, the provisions contained in the sixth chapter provide in detail about them, including details of offences and punishments thereon. The persons who are victim of damage or loss of crops or produce due to such trespass by the cattle in his field, are entitle to file suit for recovery of amount against the head of compensation for such loss or damage. In the last chapter the State Government is empowered as to transfer of its functions or the functions of District Magistrate which are provided to them under this enactment, to the local authority comes within the area to which the provisions of this Act are extended.

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