Superman, the once famous horse from ‘Sholay’ caught the headlines through this article when at 39 he is found living a life of illness and obvious dejection in one of Mumbai’s stables. This has come into increasing public glare on account of a Public Interest Litigation that is currently pending before the High Court of Judicature at Bombay.
P.I.L. No. 36 of 2011, titled “Animals and Birds Charitable Trust and Others Versus The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and Others”, in which the Mumbai Traffic Police, the State of Maharashtra, the Bombay Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Animal Welfare Board of India are among the parties arrayed as respondents, is a petition seeking, among other things, a COMPLETE BAN ON THE USE AND MISUSE of horses and ponies on the streets and in the beaches of Mumbai. It points to the miserable conditions that ‘carriage horses’, which draw the famous / infamous horse-drawn-carriages in Mumbai, live in during their entire life-times. Forced to work even when ill and ailing, cases of horses collapsing with exhaustion and unable to get up, are well known, in Mumbai. The petition also focuses on the mistreatment, inadequate veterinary care, little or no food and fodder, and sheer lack of hygiene in Mumbai’s stables, most of which do not have the mandatory licenses and are therefore unlawful.
Filed under Articles 226 and 51 A (g) of the Constitution of India, and purporting to focus attention on, and alleging violation of Section 394 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1968 ; the relevant provisions of the Bombay Public Land Conveyance Act, 1920 ; the relevant provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 ; the Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals
Rules, 1965 ; and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Licensing of Farriers) Rules, 1965, among others, the petition advocates the ‘Delhi Model’, i.e. the ban on the use of ‘Victorias’ or horse drawn carriages in Delhi, by the M.C.D., and the rehabilitation of
the horse and Victoria owners.
The petition is next listed before the Bombay High Court on 12th April, 2012. Court appointed Committees have been visiting the stables and reviewing conditions and the state of the animals. Their reports shall be considered, but the High Court seems to be
veering around to the view that instead of a ban, a regulation on the use of horses and horse drawn carriages is what is required. This seems to be the thrust of the order passed in March, 2012, by the High Court.
Mrs. Maneka Gandhi, and PETA are expected to intervene in the matter, through impleadment applications, that will be filed before the next date in the matter, i.e. 12th April, 2012.
We shall keep providing updates as they come to us.