Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Monday asked the state government to identify and seize all horse carriages plying illegally in the Maidan area without valid licence or registration.
The bench of Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya that was hearing the PIL on the poor condition of horses used to draw tourist carriages in the Maidan also sought the government’s response on why it had failed to implement its earlier assurance that only licenced carriages would ply on the road and why it was yet to frame laws and bylaws on hackney carriages as filed in the affidavit submitted to the court in June 2022.
When PETA and CAPE Foundation had filed a PIL in 2021, seeking a ban on horse-drawn carriages, and suggested that they be converted to electric ones like those used in Mumbai, there were over 60 carriages and 278 horses in the Maidan area. The PETA counsel claimed that back then, none of the carriages had a valid licence.
While allowing carriage owners whose licence had expired to file applications if law permitted, the court made it clear that till the documents were in order, the carriages would have to stay off the road.
The court also asked the government to check the fitness and weight of the carriages while renewing licence so that horses were not forced to draw extremely heavy vehicles. The state animal resources and animal health department has been asked to conduct a health camp in Maidan to assess the health and fitness of the horses.
“If a horse is found to be unfit, it cannot be commercially exploited. The owner can thereafter retain it only as a pet,” the chief justice said.