High Court of Bombay Gives Maharashtra Gov’t Final Chance to Submit Rehabilitation Scheme for Victoria Drivers and Horses

For Immediate Release:
16 March 2017

Dr Manilal Valliyate  [email protected]
Sachin Bangera  [email protected]

PETA Blames Inadequate Law Enforcement for Risking the Health and Safety of Horses and the Public

Mumbai – Today, a Bombay High Court bench which included Justice VM Kanade and Justice AS Gadkari granted the Maharashtra government a final opportunity to come up with a rehabilitation scheme for Victoria owners, drivers, and horses. The counsel for the State of Maharashtra stated that the government is in the process of finalising the scheme and that the High Court will be notified when it’s completed. The state government also assured that copies of the rehabilitation plan will be served to all parties prior to the next hearing. The counsel for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India argued that horse carriages must be banned in Mumbai immediately because they violate numerous traffic laws and endanger the health and safety of horses and the general public. The Court said that it will finally dispose of the present application and disband Victorias once a government scheme is in place. The matter is set to be discussed in a hearing on 2 May 2017.

A few days ago, a Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Mumbai granted interim custody of an abused horse to PETA India for treatment and care. This horse is among a total of nine unfit, suffering horses who were seized by Mumbai police and Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)–authorised inspectors since July 2016. Most of them were malnourished and suffering from severe dehydration, painful arthritis, cracked hooves, and multiple fresh wounds that were deliberately hidden with black or white material.

“It’s high time for the state government to implement the honourable court’s order to rid our congested streets of Victorias”, says Dr Manilal Valliyate, PETA’s director of veterinary affairs. “The Victorias that malnourished horses are forced to haul while hobbling along on often swollen, painful legs are unlicenced  and pose a threat to the public. We urge the government to protect citizens and horses alike by developing and implementing a rehabilitation scheme immediately.”

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way” – provided the court with evidence of cruelty to horses from its numerous investigations of Mumbai’s horse-drawn Victoria industry. They revealed that horses were often injured, sick, and severely malnourished and forced to stand amidst their own waste in filthy and decrepit stables. Reports further documented that they were frequently denied adequate rest, water, and veterinary care. 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. And a horse was critically injured after he collapsed because of exhaustion at the Gateway of India.

The 8 June 2015 judgment of the Bombay High Court ruled that using Victorias in Mumbai for so-called “joyrides” is illegal. The court also maintained that none of the stables for horses in Mumbai possesses a licence 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 directed carriage owners to approach the 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 High Court order, and this timeline ended on 24 October.

For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com.