Legal Reform

No water for Ducks – Practically and Legally!

Duck-farming

One of my clients who is engaged in rearing of duck, wanted to know the various licenses he should have, to conduct his duck farm, legally. He had none at present. But, during the dawn of Goods and Service Tax, he wanted to know the details of other licenses required to conduct duck farming .

In Kerala, duck farming is regulated under the Kerala Panchayat Raj (Licensing of Livestock Farms) Rules, 2012. According to the Rules, one can rear 15 poultry birds in one cent of land. In addition to that, based on the number of birds reared, there should be Fertilizer Pits (വളക്കുഴി), and burial pits (if there are more than 5000 birds), for the farm. The license is to be issued by the Secretary of the concerned Grama Panchayat. The certificates from the Pollution Control Board and District Medical Officer, are necessary, though it can be exempted by the Secretary, if it is so felt by him, on basis of location of the farm.

However, there is a catch to all these. The farm cannot be operated in a paddy land. This is because, according to Kerala Conservation of Paddy land and Wetland Act, 2008, the Panchayat is prohibited from issuing any license in any property classified as Paddy Land. My client was operating his duck farm in a paddy land. Although his land is only partially reclaimed, the entire land is included in the data bank as paddy land. So he cannot get any license from the Panchayat.

This is an anomaly in the law as ducks are traditionally reared in paddy fields.  Although I suggested to my client to file a writ petition, to cure the anomaly, he declined to proceed with a case. He rather preferred to do his business under the radar of law, having done so, peacefully, for the last several years. When I pressed him for the real reason for his hesitation, the answer astonished me.

Conventionally, although ducks require amble amount of puddled water for growth; in poultry farms, they are reared in cages, without taking them to water. My client has vast extent of wetland but none of his ducks have the fortune to swim in it. So according to my client, if a case is filed to cure the anomaly in law, it may backfire, questioning his very method of duck farming.

One thing is very clear. Ducks in Kerala are in a state of Catch 22.

If one rears ducks in paddy fields, then he will not get license, and it is rather illegal; and if he rears ducks in dry land, then ducks will not get water. Other alternatives are not commercially viable. So in short, there is no water for ducks, practically and legally, in Kerala.

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RSS on codification of Hindu Personal Laws, in the 1950s

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh threw its weight behind the agitation (against codification of Hindu Personal Laws). On 11 December 1949, the RSS organized a public meeting at the Ram Lila grounds in Delhi, where speaker after speaker condemned the bill. One called it ‘an atom bomb on Hindu society’. Another likened it to the draconian Rowlatt Act introduced by the colonial state; just as the protests against that act led to the downfall of the British, he said, the struggle against this Bill would signal the downfall of Nehru’s government. The next day a group of RSS workers marched on the Assembly buildings, shouting ‘Down with Hindu code bill’ and ‘May Pandit Nehru perish’. The protesters burnt effigies of the prime minister and Dr Ambedkar, and then vandalized the car of Sheikh Abdullah.

      India after Gandhi, by Ramachandra Guha.

It is curious to note that RSS objected to codification of Hindu personal laws in the 1950s. But by year 2017, it is advocating for the enactment of Uniform Civil Code. An irony, it is.

Would it be the same with the Muslim Personal Law Board, as well, in the matter of abolition of Talak and other reforms? I guess so.

Outnumbering of Original Petitions in Family Courts

Anyone who has ever gone to a Family Court, will know that it is not the best place for litigation. There is no decency or ethics, neither among lawyers nor between litigants. This is mostly due to deficiencies in the legal system and unreasonable laws biased in favour of the women.

Here I am concerned with a related matter, about docket multiplication. When a couple approaches a family court for divorce and other related reliefs, there would be numerous cases filed on their behalf.

The husband would be filing for restitution of conjugal rights, custody of children etc, whereas wife usually files for divorce, maintenance, return of gold ornaments etc. Currently, all these are separate cases, having separate proceedings and docket numbers. There would be minimum three original petitions and one miscellaneous case (apart from 498A and domestic violence criminal cases), when a warring couple decides to fight it out in family court. As a topping to the chaos, all these cases are granted separate docket numbers, like OP, MC, MP etc.

I have always wondered why a particular couple is not given a single docket number, so that it is easy for the lawyers and registry to handle their cases. I know, all these cases would not originate all at once, but during different periods of time. But still, if a couple is given one main docket number, and is allowed to file interlocutory applications for maintenance, custody of children etc, then it is more easy for everyone to handle the case file.

Anyhow, at the end, joint trial of all the connected cases would be ordered by the Family Court. So why cant these separate original petitions, of a single family, be consolidated into one? Postings, personal appearance, counselling etc become easy that way.

One original petition intimating arise of the matrimonial dispute, and everything else under it as interlocutory applications. It would be a civilised way of conducting litigation in an otherwise adverse environment.