Calcutta HC orders committee be set up to inspect carriage horses in city

The Calcutta High Court on Monday ordered an inspection committee be set up to submit a report on unlicensed and unfit carriage horses used to haul tourist carriages in the city.

Passing an order on a petition from Peta India and Cape Foundation, a division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj directed that the inspection committee should include one representative each from West Bengal Animal Resources Development Department, the Animal Welfare Board of India and the two petitioners in the matter, namely Peta India and Cape Foundation.

Reacting to the order, Peta India’s senior counsel, Arunima Kedia said: “We are happy that the Calcutta High Court has recognised the need for action on the unlicensed and unfit horses used in the city. Numerous inspection reports have established that sick, badly injured and emaciated horses are forced to haul tourists in Kolkata and many are operating without the requisite license to do so.”

According to her, Mumbai and Delhi have already prohibited the use of horses for pulling carriages or tongas. “Instead, mechanical means such as beautiful e-carriages or e-rickshaws, are being used instead,” she added.

Kedia also said that numerous recent assessment reports by PETA India have established that more than 100 horses used for rides in the city are anaemic, malnourished, and chronically starved. “Some suffer from severe injuries including bone fractures,” she added.

Using injured and malnourished horses for carriage rides violates The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, she noted.

“The lack of a system for the collection and disposal of horse faeces is in apparent contempt of the Calcutta High Court. Through an order dated January 22, 2013, the court had directed that measures should be taken by the owners of each hackney carriage for removing dung excreted by the horses,” Kedia added.

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