The days are numbered for Victorias – the horse-driven carriages many Mumbaiites have taken joyrides in. Saying that using horse-driven carriages only for joyrides was ‘completely illegal’, the Bombay high court on Monday directed the Maharashtra government to ensure that Victorias are taken off the roads within a year.
“Using horse-driven carriages solely for human pleasure an avoidable activity and violates Section 3 and Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1986,” said the division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice AK Menon.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by the Animals and Birds Charity, an NGO seeking a complete ban on Victorias. The NGO claims the horses are not treated properly and kept in pathetic conditions. Other NGOs had joined in to seek a ban.
The court held that the owners and drivers of Victorias were not entitled to licenses as their activities were solely for human pleasure and not for transporting people or goods, and therefore illegal under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1986.
The bench accepted the view of the petitioners, that horses were not meant to pull carriages on concrete and tar roads and that this subjected them to unnecessary pain and suffering.
The court has directed the state government to frame, within six months, a plan to rehabilitate about 700 families that depend on Victorias for their livelihood, and implement it with a year. The court has also directed the government to look into the possibility of rehabilitating the horses.
Taking note of the poor conditions of stables in Mumbai, the court also directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to shut them down, as none of them have licences.