Based on a petition filed by PETA India, the High Court of Delhi issued an order directing the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to disclose the status of animals in all 19 circuses under its review, some of which have been closed down and others of which have had their registration certificate cancelled by the AWBI. The court also directed the AWBI to file a response to an application filed by PETA India with a request for the court’s direction to take legal action against the remaining six functional circuses in the country for numerous apparent violations of laws.
The AWBI had earlier reported that among these 19 circuses, it had cancelled the performing animal registration certificates of five, directed the relevant state governments to submit documents related to eight which had closed down, and issued show-cause notices to two. PETA India, through its application, requested action against the remaining circuses on this list.
In 2020, the AWBI advised the central government for a second time to pass legislation banning animals in circuses. The recommendation came on the heels of inspections conducted by the board, following the orders of the Delhi High Court on a petition filed by PETA India. In 2017, through an advisory to the central government, the AWBI recommended the implementation of strong legislation to end the use of animals in circuses for various reasons, including the cruelty inherent in the industry, rampant legal violations, and the unworkable nature of the existing regulatory framework. The Central Zoo Authority also cancelled the recognition of the Great Golden Circus, the last Indian circus using elephants for performances.
In 2018, the central government notified the draft Performing Animals (Registration) (Amendment) Rules, 2018, proposing to prohibit performance and exhibition of all animals in circuses, but it has yet to be finalised.