The Bombay high court on Wednesday gave the Maharashtra government two weeks to file an affidavit providing a ‘step by step’ account of all it has done to rehabilitate Victoria horse carriage owners, following the court’s June 2015 ban on such carriages.
A bench of justices VM Kanade and PR Bora asked the government why it had failed to frame a ‘comprehensive policy’ to rehabilitate the owners and operators of Victoria horse carriages who were rendered jobless after the ban.
Earlier, the state had sought four months to finalise such a policy, adding that despite the ban, several horse carriages continued to ply in the city. The bench cited a lack of alternative job opportunities as they reason why carriage owners and operators were unwilling to follow the rules. It stated that the government must extend help to these people.
“It has been more than two years since the court banned victorias and directed the state to form a comprehensive policy to rehabilitate those affected. You have not challenged the order in the Apex Court. So what is the reason for the delay?” the bench said.
The bench was hearing a bunch of pleas filed by carriage owners and operators, along with a few activists and animal shelter owners.
It has asked the government to identify the number of people and horses affected by the order and to list them in its affidavit.
The state’s counsel said the government had constituted a committee to help rehabilitate those affected. He said the committee had identified 221 licensed carriage owners and operators. However, he said the state needed more time to finalise a policy.
In June 2015, another bench of the court had directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to prevent all horse carriages from plying in the city, observing that they were ‘illegal’ and that they violated the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. It had asked the state to rehabilitate those affected by the ban.