HC allows PETA, FIAPO to participate in circuses’ survey

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed that the representatives of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and the Federation for Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) be allowed to participate in the survey of the circuses conducted by Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI).

A division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar also directed that if during the survey, animals are found to be ill-treated or malnourished, it will be open for the petitioners and the AWBI to provide medicines and food to the animals at the site itself and that the management of the circuses shall co-operate.

The matter was listed for further hearing on September 29.

Earlier, the HC had asked the AWBI to conduct surveys in the registered circuses related to animals' health condition, the kind of food and quantity of food that they are being provided on a daily basis and other relevant facts.

The High Court has directed the respondent board to ensure that either it gets the physical site surveys done itself or gets the same done through the State Animal Husbandry Boards concerned of all the circuses registered.

The bench had said that the survey should involve veterinarians, should provide all the relevant and material facts about the condition in which the animals are being kept; their health condition, whether they are suffering from any ailments; the kind of food and quantity of food that they are being provided on daily basis; and all such other relevant facts.

The High Court was hearing two petitions, filed by PETA India and FIAPO, seeking directions to impose an immediate ban on the use of animals in circuses across the country.

PETA India, in its plea, said that the use of weapons and other forms of abuse of animals is inherent, rampant, and widespread in circuses, which commonly violate the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001, the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Recognition of Zoo Rules, 2009, among others.

FIAPO, on the other hand, had sought to rescue animals in circuses due to COVID-19 pandemic and challenging Sections 21 to 27 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 to the extent that they permit exhibition and training of animals in/ for/ in relation to circuses acts. The challenge to these Sections will ensure a ban on the use of animals in circuses.

During the hearing, it was pointed out that PETA India has conducted a field survey and found the condition of the animals in a circus is precarious and have filed photographs to substantiate these submissions.

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