‘Find out what happened to missing circus animals during inspection’

Delhi High Court. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to find out what happened to the circus animals which were missing when inspection was carried out at circuses across the country.

A Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar said it was surprised by the huge gap in the number of animals found by the AWBI, as against those registered with it, when inspection was carried out.

The court said that out of 740 animals registered with AWBI, information is available regarding only 28. This, the court said, was a serious issue as it inquired about the rest of the animals. It also sought an explanation on why the Board inspected only 19 out of the 28 circuses in the country.

The court direction came after the Federation of Indian Animals Protection Organisation (FIAPO) said, according to the survey report filed by AWBI, that around 740 circus animals were registered with it, but in the survey only 28 were found.

Exact data

The counsel appearing for the federation submitted that many circuses have closed down as per the information received from AWBI, and hence it is important to know how many circuses are functioning as on date.

The court’s direction came while hearing two separate petitions filed by FIAPO and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India seeking directions for protection of animals in circuses due to the pandemic.

PETA India has claimed that due to the pandemic outbreak and the lockdown, circuses are finding it difficult to feed the animals who are at various stages of starvation. PETA has also sought a direction to the Centre to immediately notify the Performing Animals (Registration) Amendment Rules of 2018, which expressly prohibit training and exhibition of performing animals in circuses and “mobile entertainment facilities”.

FIAPO has challenged the Performing Animal Rules, 1973 and Performing Animal (Registration) Rules, 2001 to the extent that they allow registration of animals as ‘performing animals’ for circuses as against the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Constitution of India. Their plea stated that on account of the pandemic, there have been numerous reports of animals being stranded or abandoned.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2021 8:26:47 AM |

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