The Hyderabad High Court has impleaded 17 public representatives including a MP and eight state legislators of Andhra Pradesh for alleged violation of the court orders banning cockfighting.
Thotha Narasimham, a member of Lok Sabha, belonging to Andhra Pradesh's ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP), six members of Legislative Assembly and two members of Legislative Council were among the public representatives impleaded as respondents by the court in the writ petition filed by an animal rescue organisation.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice T. Radhakrishnan and Justice Ramesh Ranganathan of the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, suo moto impleaded the public representatives, whose list was furnished by the Advocate General.
While the state government maintained that the public representatives were only present in the cockfight events held during Sankranti 2018, the petitioners claimed that they had actively participated in cockfighting.
"As action if any, for wilful and deliberate violation of earlier order of the Division Bench, can only be taken after these individuals are given an opportunity of being heard, it is necessary that they be impleaded as respondents in these writ petitions," says the order dated July 10.
The court ordered notices to the public representatives, returnable in four weeks.
According to Humane Society International/India, despite the court reiterating the ban in December 2016 and again in January 2018, cockfighting was organised on a large scale in various districts of Andhra Pradesh in 2017 and 2018. The organisation has been campaigning to end cockfighting in Andhra Pradesh, including assisting in legal intervention against the cruel and illegal practice.
The 17 public representatives include a Member of Parliament, members of the legislative assembly, and members of district and village councils.
"We welcome the order of the Honourable High Court. It is high time that legislators are held responsible for not only disobeying the law themselves but also misguiding the public and getting them to do the same. A practice that glorifies so many illegal activities should have no place in a civilized society," said N. G. Jayasimha, managing director of Humane Society International/India.