Giving paramount importance to horses' health, the Bombay high court (HC), on Monday, said that the state should have a policy for heirs of Victoria carriage owners to continue with the business.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Animals and Birds Charitable Trust seeking to phase out and eventually prohibit the use of horses and ponies for carriages and joy rides.
Assistant government pleader Niranjan Pandit said that on finding that the transfer of licences was carried out in an unauthorised manner, notices were issued to 10 carriage owners. So far, only three have made their representations.
Meanwhile, the horse owners said that the state government had issued show-cause notices to them even when the matter is pending.
A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Roshan Dalvi said that these issues are not of primary importance. "Prime consideration is the health of the horses," the court said. "The state should have a policy for heirs to carry on."
The civic body informed the court that the executive health officer (EHO) would survey eleven stables to determine hygiene and fitness of horses.
Following an earlier court direction, the EHO had held a meeting with the parties concerned where it was decided that a survey would be conducted to determine the fitness of the horses and sick animals would be given treatment.
The court had earlier directed the authorities to seize the horses kept in unlicensed stables in the city and hand them over to the NGO. The carriage owners had intervened in the matter saying that they are taking good care of horses.
The court has adjourned the hearing till March 15.