HC pulls up AWBI for showing lack of care to captive animals, asks Secretary to explain lapses

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 29-11-2021 16:24 IST | Created: 29-11-2021 16:14 IST
HC pulls up AWBI for showing lack of care to captive animals, asks Secretary to explain lapses
Representative Image Image Credit: ANI
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The Delhi High Court Monday pulled up the Animals Welfare Board of India (AWBI) for not being aware of the whereabouts of animals, who were kept in the circus which have been shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic and for showing lack of care and affection to the captive animals.

The high court directed the secretary of AWBI to remain present before it on the next date of hearing on February 9, to explain the lapses and asked the authorities to file an affidavit disclosing the whereabouts of all the animals kept in circuses in the country.

"There is utter non-compliance of our directions by the AWBI. The matter brooks no delay. We are concerned with the welfare of animals kept by the zoos within India which have suffered on account of the pandemic. Lack of care and attention to the captive animals can prove fatal for them. It appears that the AWBI is not sensitive to this need," a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said.

The court said despite being the concerned authority, AWBI is not aware of the animals housed in the circuses and in what condition and it appeared to be a complete dereliction of duty on the part of the board.

The bench warned that it will not hesitate in initiating contempt action against the authorities as the officers seem to be taking the court lightly.

The bench said the purpose is defeated and animals will perish if the authorities are not taking care of them.

When advocate Rajesh Gogna, representing AWBI and Central Zoo Authority (CZA), submitted that the board had endeavoured to hold a meeting in the last 15 days, the bench said there was no explanation as to why these issues were not taken up earlier and added that it appeared the authorities are not taking the matter seriously.

The high court was hearing two separate petitions filed by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Federation of Indian Animals Protection Organisation (FIAPO) for the protection of animals in circuses stranded across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the matter came up for hearing, senior advocate Priya Hingorani, representing PETA India, said the reply on its application seeking to issue show-cause notices to several circuses and cancel their registration certificates due to alleged violations committed by them, is awaiting since January this year and AWBI and CZA are yet to file their responses.

She submitted that the whole purpose of this application was to see the condition of the animals in circuses, which are functional and which have been closed down.

In August, the high court had asked AWBI to file an affidavit on the status of animals of circuses that have closed down.

Last year, the court was informed by the FIAPO that according to a report filed by AWBI, around 740 circus animals were registered with it, but in a survey, only 28 were found.

The court had then directed the AWBI and the CZA to find out what happened to the missing animals and file an affidavit on the status of all circus animals registered with them.

It had been termed ''serious'' and ''shocking'' that there was a huge gap in the number of animals found by the AWBI, as against those registered with it, when it inspected circuses across the country.

PETA India, in its petition, has claimed that due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the resultant lockdown, circuses were finding it difficult to feed the animals which left many of them vulnerable to starvation.

It sought a direction to the Centre to immediately notify the Performing Animals (Registration) Amendment Rules of 2018 which expressly prohibits the training and exhibition of performing animals in circuses and ''mobile entertainment facilities''.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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