The state government Thursday informed the Bombay High Court that the framing of a policy to rehabilitate the drivers and owners of horse-drawn Victoria carriages was in its final stage. A sub-committee framing a comprehensive policy will present it before the cabinet, it said.
A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice A S Gadkari was hearing a PIL by city-based NGO Animals and Birds Charitable Trust against “cruelty to horses by using them for joyrides”. The court, in its last hearing, had asked the state to list steps being taken to rehabilitate the horses and the people associated with the business.
Government pleader Purnima Khantaria, while seeking more time, told the court: “Several meetings have been held by the sub-committee to frame rehabilitation policies. Comprehensive measures have been taken and it is in the final stage. We will be providing the details of the policy in the next hearing.” The court asked the state to file the details of the policy by May 2.
Justice Kanade asked the state if it can provide permits for the horse coachmen/riders to drive rickshaws and taxis in the city as they have been rendered jobless, to which the state said it had already held meetings with the coachmen and owners, and necessary steps will be taken.
He also suggested if joyrides in a limited area are possible as the carriages attract tourists, to which the state said it would be illegal to do so as the previous court order banned horse carriages in the city completely.
The petitioners also said Victorias were not a public conveyance and therefore, cannot be used for joyrides. The petitioners informed the court that it has been over a year since the ban but no steps have been taken for rehabilitation.