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The Livestock Importation Act, 1898

On 12th August, 1898 “The Livestock Importation Act” came into force. The act specifically applies to importation of livestock into India by ‘land’, ‘sea’ or ‘air’ as defined under section 2 sub clause (c). The act aims to regulate and make provisions for importation of livestock, specifically the livestock affected by contagious or infectious diseases. After the amendment made in the act, Livestock Importation (Amendment) Act, 2001 came to force under which the import of livestock products is also being regulated. The act applies to whole of India including Jammu and Kashmir.

Section 2 of the act defines livestock which includes horses, kine, camels, sheep and any other animal as may be notified in the official gazette by Central and the State government. Under the act certain specific diseases infested specifically to livestock are also notified subject to inclusion of other diseases as the Central or State government may deem fit or necessary.

Under the act only certain animals, livestock and accessories attached to livestock is notified, however state and central government by notification in official gazette may include any other such animal, livestock or accessories, that which is imported and is infected with a disease threatening to human life. Delhi High Court in Sanjay Khanna vs Director General Foreign Trade 129 (2006) DLT 100. The petitioner Mr.Sanjay Khanna, sought direction to the respondent Director General Foreign Trade to release the consignment of white Goose and duck feathers, imported by his customers for manufacture of shuttle cocks for the game of badminton. Petitioner was an agent for Chinese Principals and placed orders on behalf of Indian Customers and importers. Petitioner had placed orders for certain companies in Punjab. The goods had been shipped on 15th January, 2004 and had arrived in India on 4th February, 2004. Vide notification No.33(RE-2003)/2002-2007 dated 6th February, 2004 issued in exercise of powers under Section 5 of the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992, the import of feathers from all countries in view of reported outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (Fowl Plague)(H1N1) was prohibited for a period of six months. However petitioner contended that his goods had arrived prior to the said notification and the notification would not apply to him. The court however did not find view in his favour and ordered destruction of the feather goods imported.

Section 3 of the act is the most important section which empowers state to control, prohibit or moderate importation of livestock infected with a communicable disease. The act also makes provision for keeping a check on accessories attached including fodder, dung, clothing, harness etc. of animals affected. A notification made under section 3 sub clause (1) shall apply as if made under the Customs Act 1878. Section 3 sub clause (2) empowers custom officers to keep a check on vessel which deals in importation of livestock and shall have similar powers of search and seizure of such vessel containing livestock as under the Customs Act.

The State government has powers to make rules and regulations under the act to keep a check on importation of livestock infested with dangerous disease. Under section 4 state governments also has power to destroy such livestock and the accessories attached with livestock infected with a dangerous and communicable disease. In case a person is acting under the act and destroys livestock infected with communicable and infectious disease no suit or proceedings shall lie against such person acting in furtherance of social safety under section 5 of the Act.

The act basically takes into care prevention of life threatening diseases transmitted through livestock imported and has laid guidelines to destroy such livestock and such animals imported which may be infected with communicable and infectious disease. The act also lays down a penalty of rupees thousand in case of disobeyance. This act is a social act whereby masses can be protected from life threatening diseases spreading through animals.

                                                                                                                       by Vibhuti Nakta