Not a Single Victoria in Mumbai Has a Licence to Ply

Posted on by PETA

PETA warns that, because of inadequate law enforcement, the health and safety of horses and the general public are at risk

Information just obtained by PETA India from the office of Mumbai’s joint commissioner of police traffic reveals that the licences issued for 130 horse-drawn carriages in 2011 and 2012 expired in 2013 and that no new licences were issued thereafter. Moreover, of the licences issued specifically to drivers from 2013 to 2016, all but 35 have now expired. However, the carriages continue to ply the city’s roads – in apparent violation of The Bombay Public Conveyances Act, 1920, and The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, and because of inadequate law enforcement by Mumbai police – offering illegal joyrides and endangering the health and safety of horses and the general public.

The licencing-status data of Victorias and drivers can be found here.

The 8 June 2015 judgment of the Bombay High Court, which directed Victorias to be phased out within a year, stated that the petitioners and the interveners, including PETA, were free to point out the instances of violations to the concerned authorities, who shall be obliged to take action in accordance with law. PETA has urged the police commissioner of Mumbai to stop unlicenced horse-drawn carriages from plying the city’s roads by issuing immediate directives to relevant police authorities to implement The Bombay Public Conveyances Act, 1920, and The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. PETA has also requested that the commissioner issue an order under Section 33(w)(ii) of The Bombay Police Act, 1951, to prohibit “the keeping of places of public amusement or entertainment or assembly, in order to prevent obstruction, inconvenience, annoyance, risk, danger or damage to the residents or passengers in the vicinity”.

A total of nine unfit, suffering horses have been seized from roads by Mumbai police and AWBI-authorised inspectors since July. The horses were malnourished and suffered from severe dehydration, painful arthritis, cracked hooves, and multiple fresh wounds that were deliberately hidden with black or white material. Accidents involving horse-drawn carriages have caused numerous injuries, some of which have been fatal, such as the death of a 3-year-old child who was thrown from a carriage in Thane after a passing car startled a horse. A horse was critically injured after he collapsed because of exhaustion at the Gateway of India.

According to sections 3(1), 8(1), and 11(1) of The Bombay Public Conveyances Act, 1920, horse-drawn carriages, horses, and drivers, respectively, are to be licenced by the traffic police. However, the 8 June 2015 judgment of the Bombay High Court ruled that using Victorias in Mumbai for so-called “joyrides” is illegal because they aren’t being used for the purpose of conveyance of 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, 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 directed carriage owners to approach the Bombay High Court by way of a review petition and directed the Maharashtra government to present its rehabilitation plan for carriage owners and drivers. The Supreme Court also granted a six-month extension for the implementation of the Bombay High Court order, and this timeline ended on 24 October.

Help Get Dangerous Horse-Drawn Carriages off Mumbai Roads