Supreme Court: No Tonga Races to be Conducted in Rajasthan this Year

For Immediate Release:

7 September 2018


Nikunj Sharma; [email protected]

Garima Jain; [email protected]

In Matter in Which PETA India Intervened, Court Dismissed Petitioner’s Application Seeking Permission to Conduct Tonga Races

Delhi – Following an intervention by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, the Supreme Court of India today dismissed the application to conduct tonga races filed by the petitioner in a Special Leave Petition (SLP) seeking to challenge the ban on such races that the Rajasthan High Court imposed in 2016, which prevented countless horses from being forced through beatings to race on busy roads in the past two years. The petitioner’s application had called for tonga races to be allowed this year, but the court stated that it was not inclined to grant any relief, so the races remain banned. However, the SLP will be heard by the court soon.

“Tonga racers control horses by placing spikes in their mouths and whipping them in order to force them to run on roads, putting both them and the public at risk,” says PETA India Associate Director of Policy Nikunj Sharma. “We’re pleased that the Supreme Court’s latest order recognises that horses are not ours to abuse in the name of entertainment.”

The Rajasthan High Court banned tonga races in 2016 following a report submitted by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) – a statutory body constituted under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and overseen by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The AWBI also urged the Government of Rajasthan to ensure strict compliance with and effective implementation of the order. Last year, the High Court dismissed an application filed by the state government seeking to modify the ban after finding that the state had earlier filed a contradictory response in the Supreme Court matter stating that it does not support cruel tonga races and stands by the AWBI report and the order of the High Court.

PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – notes that horses used for tonga races are whipped, beaten, and jerked vigorously by the spiked bits in their mouths. The AWBI’s report noted that cruelty to horses is inherent in forcing them to run on hard concrete or tarred roads, as doing so results in damage to their legs and feet. The horses find it particularly frightening and distressing when they’re forced to race amid the chaos of heavy traffic and with spectators shouting on the roadside. It also pointed out that the horses used for races in Nagaur district already suffer from faulty conformation and pathological abnormalities of the foot as a result of poor foot care and farriery practices – and that events such as horse races only aggravate these existing conditions and cause the animals to suffer. The report also documented that horses used for races are commonly forced to stand amidst their own waste in filthy and decrepit stables and denied adequate water and necessary veterinary treatment – and that they’re often injured, sick, or severely malnourished.

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