Mumbai: Observing that the horse-drawn carriages, famously known as ‘Victoria’ carriages, plying in the city were “illegal and violative of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act”, the Bombay High Court today directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to completely ban them after a year.
A division bench of Justices A S Oka and A K Menon was hearing a public interest litigation filed by city-based NGO ‘Animals and Birds Charitable Trust’ alleging cruelty to horses by using them for joyrides.
The petitioners, including NGOs- People for Animals and People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), sought a direction to ban plying of Victoria horse carriages. The high court today directed all authorities to ensure that use of horse-drawn carriages and/or victorias in Mumbai shall be completely stopped after a year.
“We hold that the use of horse-driven carriages/Victorias in Mumbai for joyrides is completely illegal. The activity of using horse-driven carriages only for joyrides solely for human pleasure is an avoidable activity. Horse-driven carriages only for joyrides is violative of Section 3 and 11 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,” the bench said.
The court has also directed that all stables meant for horses in the city be closed down after a year. Taking into account the fact that around 700 families are dependent of this business of Victoria carriages, the court has asked the state government to formulate a scheme for rehabilitation of these families.
“The government shall also formulate a rehabilitation scheme for the horses. If any reputed animal welfare organisation comes forward to take care of these horses, then the state government is free to consider the same,” the court said.
The government has been directed to formulate the scheme by December 31, 2015 and submit a compliance report in January 2016 before the high court.
The court specified that the ban on Victorias and horse-drawn carriages after a year is only for the city of Mumbai. “In other cities, such carriages may be used for other purposes too. But if it is noticed that carriages are used for joyrides, then that should be stopped by the concerned authority,” the court said.