The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Maharashtra Government to respond to the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by an animal rights activist from Pune and sought clarification on the movement of animal ambulances and private vehicles carrying animals to hospitals.
The court passed directions after animal rights activist approached the Court seeking reliefs for animals and pets during lockdown enforced due to COVID-19 outbreak.
The HC however did not allow a demand seeking directions to allow pets including dogs to be taken out for walks after the state lawyer clarified that while humans are restricted from leaving homes except for accessing essential services, walking pets within housing society compounds was permitted but exception cannot be made animals.
A single judge bench of justice Suresh C Gupte, heard through videoconference, a plea by animal rights activist Vineeta Tandon, who claimed that domestic animals were suffering due to lockdown.
Strays were not getting fed as registered feeders were being restrained by the Police from moving out and veterinary ambulances are being stopped by Police from ferrying animals in Pune, she said.
The PIL sought from Court directions to the authorities to allow feeders to move freely and to allow veterinary ambulances along with private vehicles in case ambulances are not available to take pets to hospitals.
Advocate Harshavardhan Bhende for the petitioner also sought directions to allow pets to be taken for walks and claimed that keeping them indoors for long time would creates problems and become uneasy for the owner.
However, responding to the plea, advocates Priyabhushan Kakade and Manish Pable for the state submitted that veterinary ambulances are not being stopped and in case of specific instance, it can be brought to the notice of authority and relevant action can be taken.
The state lawyers also submitted that feeders were not restrained from giving food to strays and in case of any complaints, the details can be conveyed to the authorities.
Moreover, advocate Pable submitted that everyone including children and senior citizens are staying indoors even against their wishes, making an exception for pets would not be possible.
There is no evidence to prove that COVID-19 cannot spread through animals and as a precaution, request made by activists cannot be allowed, he submitted.
After hearing submissions, the HC directed state to respond on Tandon’s plea seeking to allow registered animal feeders in demarcated areas and to allow pets for stroll within their locality for their health purposes.
The HC also asked petitioners to produce communication, if any, by Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) pertaining to the submission that restraining pets to be taken out for walks would amount to cruelty to animals.
The bench also directed state to allow movement of veterinary ambulances and doctors and posted further hearing on May 15.
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