MUMBAI, (GNI): Today, a Bombay High Court bench which included Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice GS Kulkarni granted two more months’ time to the Maharashtra government to submit its already hugely delayed rehabilitation plan for horse carriage owners, drivers and horses so that the Victorias can be removed from Mumbai roads, upon the request of the counsel representing the State. The counsel appearing for the animal protection groups, including People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and People for Animals (PFA) informed the court that because of the delay on the part of the State government proposing a rehabilitation plan, the horses are suffering, and citizens continue to be put at traffic risk. The matter will be now listed in the first week of July.
“How many more abused horses will collapse before the State government implements the 2015 judgment of the Bombay High Court that Victorias must be removed from Mumbai roads?”, asks Dr Manilal Valliyate, PETA’s director of veterinary affairs. “With a very hot summer ahead, only the State government can stop the incidences of exhausted, dehydrated horses falling in traffic, and people getting hurt.”
On 3 April 2017, a Bombay High Court bench which included Justice AS Oka and Justice AK Menon dismissed the review petition filed by horse carriage owners on the 8 June 2015 judgement of the court, calling for the Victoria ban to be overturned. With the dismissal, the court had firmly reiterated that the ban on horse-drawn carriages in Mumbai remains in place (although it still needs to be implemented). The 8 June 2015 judgment of the Bombay High Court ruled that using Victorias in Mumbai for so-called “joyrides” is illegal. The court also maintained that none of the stables for horses in Mumbai possesses a licence under Section 394 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888. In April 2016, the Supreme Court also granted a six-month extension for the implementation of the High Court order, and this timeline ended on 24 October 2016.
PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way” –provided the court with evidence of cruelty to horses from its numerous investigations of Mumbai’s horse-drawn Victoria industry. It revealed that horses were often injured, sick, and severely malnourished and forced to stand amidst their own waste in filthy and decrepit stables. Reports further documented that they were frequently denied adequate rest, water, and veterinary care. Accidents involving horse-drawn carriages have caused numerous injuries, some of which have been fatal, such as the death of a 3-year-old child who was thrown from a carriage in Thane after a passing car startled a horse. And a horse was critically injured after he collapsed because of exhaustion at the Gateway of India. For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com.