The Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court about the 2017 rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and said that there was a difference between seizure and confiscation of animals, while responding to a petition, PTI reported. The Centre’s response came after last week the court had asked it to amend a rule in the Act pertaining to confiscation of animals before an accused is convicted under the legislation.

A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian had made the observations during the hearing on January 4 on a plea by Buffalo Traders Welfare Association, challenging the validity of the rules that allow authorities to seize vehicles used in cattle transportation and send the animals to shelters. The petition pointed out that the transporters, farmers and cattle traders were being threatened since the rules were notified.

During the proceedings on Monday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said the government has filed a detailed reply to the petition, and for cases related to seizure of animals, a plea can be filed in the concerned court seeking release, PTI reported. He further submitted that the Buffalo Traders Welfare Association had confused between seizure and confiscation and an animal subjected to cruelty cannot be allowed to be maintained by that person.

The court however pointed out that it was concerned about the animals being taken away from custody of owners even when the legal proceedings were on.

“What are you going to do about the rules which are in dissonance with the sections of the Act?” the bench asked Mehta, according to PTI. “The animals are the source of livelihood for people. The section is clear that only after conviction the animals can be taken away. The rules permit to take away the animals even before conviction.”

The court said that it will consider the Centre’s reply, and take up the matter again next week.