The Bombay high court on Monday directed the Maharashtra government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to shut down illegal pet shops at Crawford Market.
The court directed the government and the civic body to initiate steps to close down such shops and also to keep a strict eye to ensure that the shops do not reopen. It also said that if the court gets reports on non-compliance by BMC officials or senior police, it will initiate action against them.
A division bench led by the Chief Justice of Bombay high court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking punitive action against such pet shop owners on charges of cruelty to animals and illegal trade.
“We want the assistant municipal commissioner of the concerned ward and the senior police inspector of the area to keep strict vigil and ensure that such illegal pet shops do not function. We also direct the undersecretary and secretary of Maharashtra state legal services authority to make surprise visits and submit a report along with photos,” the court said.
The plea, filed by a social activist, seeks that such birds and animals be rescued and the traders be directed to shut shop immediately.
As per the plea, about “8,000 birds have been seized and rescued from Crawford Market over the past 20 years”.
It claims that despite the Wildlife Protection Act that bans the trade and trapping of indigenous as well as endangered birds, “a black market” for such trade thrives openly in the Crawford Market area.
“Such acts of animal cruelty and practice of illegal trade is in gross violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The animals are been kept in terrible conditions, cramped in small cages with inadequate food and water. Most of the animals are sick and suffers from contagious diseases which spread to the other animals due to the lack of medical treatment,” the plea reads.
The high court is likely to take up the matter for further hearing in four weeks.