IN APRIL this year, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) had cancelled the registration certificate of Pune-based Rambo Circus, which later filed a writ petition with the Bombay High Court. Not satisfied with AWBI’s claims, the court on Thursday ordered AWBI to take “a fresh decision after issuing fresh showcause notice” to Rambo Circus.
The Bombay HC bench of Justices Makarand Karnik and Shantanu Kemkar today in their court order have said “in the circumstances, we find that there is a clear violation of principles of natural justice as the impugned order has been passed without serving notice to showcause and fixing the date of personal hearing on the petitioner (Rambo Circus).”
The AWBI, also noted, the court had sent the show cause notice on the old address of Rambo Circus despite being aware of the changed address. The court considered the old correspondences shared between AWBI and Rambo Circus, particularly the letter dated February 21, 2006, and hence, ruled that AWBI was very much aware of the change of address.
“I have faith in the judicial system. We have been taking care of our animals to the best of our abilities, yet AWBI officials have been claiming that we have been ill-treating our animals. At the same time, we have been maintaining that we are ready to follow each and every guideline stated to us by the Central Zoo Authorities and are even ready to undergo training to take care of the animals. We were not even given a chance to give explanation and our animals were just confiscated without giving us any documents,” said Sujith Dilip, Rambo Circus owner. “My main complaint is that AWBI should send government representatives instead of NGO representatives, who are anyways against circuses,” added Dilip.
On May 27, the Sangvi Police had confiscated 22 animals of Rambo Circus following allegations of cruelty and unlawful performance acts made by several NGOs to AWBI. The 22 animals that were confiscated included four elephants, three horses, one pony and 14 dogs. The confiscation was carried out as the circus had allegedly violated the Performing Animal Rule and the Act of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. While the elephants and dogs are at ResQ centre, the horses and the pony are with the NGO Animal Rahat.
The case has been going on at the Judicial Magistrate, Pimpri. Last week, Rambo Circus had written to the Pune Collector, seeking custody of the animals till the court case is on, the next hearing being scheduled today, June 17. Though Rambo Circus had also appealed to the Bombay High Court regarding release of his circus animals, the court maintained that since the case is already with the Judicial Magistrate (Pimpri), the matter will be heard by the same.
“In the name of ‘animal welfare’, most of the NGOs are minting money, especially through animals like elephants and bears,” said Naresh Kadyan, Chairman, People for Animals, Haryana and Master Trainer, AWBI. Meanwhile, through its Facebook page, the Wildlife SOS has been seeking donations for the four elephants of Rambo Circus.
“When I still have the ownership certificate of all these elephants, then how can this NGO seek donations for them,” questioned Dilip.