N Prakash is more than satisfied with the Kerala High Court order which allowed him to travel to the pet hospital in Kochi on Tuesday and buy food for his cats. Without it, his cats would have been down to their last meal today evening.
In their order, the judges said they were happy to help avert a “CATastrophe”.
Prakash, who lives Maradu in Kochi with his family, takes care of three cats and two kittens on the first floor of his home.
He had moved the high court this week after twice being denied a vehicle pass by the police to go to the Cochin Pet Hospital in Kadavanthara and buy a stock of ‘Me-O Persian’ for his cats.
Prakash told the court that he had three cats to feed, which included 8-year-old Karpi and her two one-month-old kittens who were still being breastfed, 5-year-old Mukki who recently had her uterus removed, and the youngest Kunju Karpi, who the family has been taking care of for the last 2-3 months.
“I usually feed them three times a a day. But as the food stock dwindled, I reduced the amount I was giving to them because I would have run out by Saturday and we didn’t know when we would get a permit,” he told HuffPost India over the phone.
By the end of last week, he had reduced portions to feed them once a day to make food last.
“On April 3 evening, I applied for a permit to go out at 10 am on April 4 (to the hospital) and return within 30 minutes. It was rejected without reason. So I sent another request on April 5, but late at 11.27 pm on Saturday night I got another rejection,” he said.
Prakash was unhappy with high-handedness of the police. The police had not let him go to a fruit shop nearby when his son was ailing from chicken pox two weeks ago. His neighbours too had had trouble going to the hospital to treat their pets.
Having worked at the Kerala high court as a private secretary till his retirement, he knew the procedures involved in filing a writ petition online.
Prakash is also currently studying at the Government Law College, Ernakulam.
“I drafted, filed the writ petition and argued in court myself. No cost was incurred,” he said.
He also sent an email to the court, specifying why his case qualified as urgent.
In his petition, Prakash cited Sections 3 and 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act which says that food and shelter is a guaranteed right for domesticated animals.
A bench of Justices AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Shaji P Chaly asked Prakash, who appeared for the hearing through a video call, if his cats would eat any other food.
Prakash said that as a vegetarian, he did not cook non-vegetarian food at home and the cats had been eating the biscuits for years. He told the court that if he could buy a seven-kilo packet of the biscuits available at the pet hospital, it would be enough to last them the lockdown period.
The court noted that the Union home ministry has included animal feed and fodder under essential items and allowed Prakash’s request.
Justice P Chaly also said “the choice of the petitioner not to cook non-vegetarian food is a well protected facet under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and he has no choice than to procure food from outside”, The Leaflet quoted.
The court then said Prakash can travel on the basis of self-declaration, along with its order, to buy the food, LiveLaw reported.
On Tuesday morning as the court’s order went viral online and his story circulated in the media, Prakash was out to finally buy the cat food.
He was able to get the last two packets that were available at the pet hospital.
At the hospital today, people told him that they hadn’t been able to visit the facility because of the police despite having travel passes.
“But since yesterday they have been allowed because when they are asked where they are going, they say “Pet hospital, Kadavanthara” and they are let through,” Prakash said.
(This article has been updated with quotes from N Prakash after he bought cat food on Tuesday morning.)