Not just human beings. Animals and that too of foreign origin are seeking justice in Delhi.
While they should have been racing on lush green sprawling tracks, three Austrian horses, each costing around R70 lakh are locked up in a corner of IGI Airport’s cargo terminal for the past three months as the young racer who had bought them and the authorities are involved in a court battle over the horses’ entry permits to India.
The adult black horses of Hanoverian breed, a favourite with racers, were imported by Arjun Sahlot, a Saket resident on September 8, 2010. But quarantine officials refused to let them in due to non-compliance of import license, quarantine regulations and confusion over their place of origin and ordered their deportation.
As Sahlot lost two rounds in the Delhi High Court, the animals continued in lock up. The court endorsed the Quarantine Office’s decision.
BL Wali, the lawyer representing the Celebi Delhi Cargo Management, which runs the cargo terminal, says, “These poor animals are alien to Indian environs. We have provided a cooler and a shade. But are unable to provide proper medical facility and expert care”.
“We have urged the court to direct the authorities to deport them. Despite orders to this effect three months back, nothing has been done,” he said.
Wali said the horses, imported without proper health documents, were also a risk to the other livestock. The court had ruled that strict compliance with quarantine rules was non-negotiable as horses imported from Austria were prone to communicable diseases.
Upholding the views of the Centre’s lawyer Jatan Singh, Justice S Muralidhar ruled: “Place of origin of an animal is critical in determining diseases likely to be transmitted when such horses are brought to a different location. Diseases peculiar to a region may not immediately manifest when a horse is brought to a different geographical location,” the judge said.
Jatan Singh argued that when Sahlot held an import license of Australia, he could not be allowed to import horses from Austria.