Mumbai Police Seize Three Suffering Horses From Unlicenced Victoria Carriage Drivers
The Mumbai Marine Drive Police, with the support of Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)–authorised inspectors – including a veterinarian from PETA India and a senior animal-welfare officer from Animal Rahat – seized three Victoria carriages and three horses from drivers who couldn’t produce the necessary licences.
The animals were malnourished and suffering from painful arthritis, cracked hooves, and multiple recent wounds that had been deliberately hidden with black material. They didn’t have shoes on their forelegs, which caused their soles to be worn down, predisposing them to painful conditions such as laminitis (the inflammation of the sensitive membrane inside the hoof).
Police seized the Victorias from Netaji Subhash Marg, a road they’re prohibited from entering by the directive of the Joint Commissioner of Traffic Police under The Bombay Police Act, 1951. The horses were sent to The Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals hospital in Parel for necessary veterinary treatment and care as well as much-needed rest. Since July, a total of nine debilitated, suffering horses have been seized from Mumbai roads by AWBI-authorised inspectors.
Accidents involving horse-drawn carriages have caused numerous injuries, some of which have been fatal, including the death of a 3-year-old child who was thrown from a carriage in Thane after a passing car startled a horse.
According to sections 3(1), 8(1), and 11(1) of The Bombay Public Conveyances Act, 1920, horse-drawn carriages, horses, and drivers, respectively, must be licensed by the traffic police. However, an 8 June 2015 judgment of the Bombay High Court ruled that using Victorias in Mumbai for so-called “joyrides” is illegal since they aren’t being used for the purpose of conveying persons or goods and, therefore, don’t meet the definition of “public conveyance” under the 1920 law. The court also maintained that none of the stables for horses in Mumbai possess licences under section 394 of The Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888.
In April 2016, the Supreme Court dismissed a special leave petition challenging the Bombay High Court order, which stated that Victorias must be phased out within a year. Instead, it instructed carriage owners to approach the Bombay High Court by way of a review petition and commanded the Government of Maharashtra to present its rehabilitation plan for carriage owners and drivers. It also granted a six-month extension for the implementation of the Bombay High Court order, but the extension ended on 24 October.
You can help prevent horses from continuing to suffer on the streets of Mumbai by urging Maharashtra’s government to implement the ban on Victorias.