The Delhi High Court has asked the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to conduct physical survey of all circuses in the country to verify the condition of animals being kept there.
A Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar said the survey report shall include the photographs and videos of animals, the surroundings they are kept in, their health condition as well as the quality of food being provided to them.
The court gave the order after AWBI stated that in compliance of the court’s July 21 order, it had issued letters to all the circuses stranded and unable to perform due to the pandemic, to give details of animals kept by them along with the information whether they would be able to maintain them. AWBI had asked the circuses if they were inclined to surrender their animals for rehabilitation. The board said out of 19 circuses registered under Performing Animal Rules 2001 seven have submitted their reports.
“Further, out of the seven circuses who have submitted their reply, they all have stated that their animals are fit and well fed and none of them have agreed to surrender their animals for rescue and rehabilitation,” the AWBI said.
The High Court, however, said unless and until a physical inspection is carried out the correct position would not be available.
The court’s direction came while hearing a plea filed by the Federation of Indian Animals Protection (FIAPO) challenging the constitutional validity of sections 21 to 27 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act so far as they permit exhibition and training of animals in relation to circus acts.
The petition had stated that the condition of animals in the circuses was vulnerable due to bankruptcy of circuses as a result of the pandemic.