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The Bombay High Court today said the Maharashtra government could consider framing a new policy or rules permitting plying of Victoria horse carriages, which have been banned in the city, provided the law against animal cruelty is strictly adhered to. In June 2015, the HC had directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to put a complete stop to carriages driven by horses famously known as 'Victoria' carriages as they are "illegal and violative of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act". The court had then directed the state government to frame a comprehensive policy to rehabilitate the persons (carriage owners and drivers) who would be affected by the ban and also the horses. The direction was given on a PIL filed by city-based NGO 'Animals and Birds Charitable Trust' alleging cruelty to horses used for joyrides. A division bench of Justices V M Kanade and A S Gadkari today, however, said if the government was willing it could consider framing a new policy or rules permitting the Victoria horse carriages to ply but with certain conditions. "We are taking a slight departure from the high court's judgement. You (government and BMC) need not stop it (horse carriages) altogether.
It can be still used as joyrides for entertainment purposes and for tourist attraction. "But then the authorities will have to carry out regular inspection to see that the horses are taken care of, are well fed and given adequate rest," Justice Kanade said. "Such an arrangement will be good for the horse carriage owners and horse riders too. Some balance can be created. Separate policy or rules can be framed permitting them to be used for joyrides provided the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act are followed," the court said. The bench was today informed by the Maharashtra government that its policy for rehabilitation of 221 families (91 carriage owners and 130 riders) was ready and would be placed before the Cabinet soon. "The government can also consider giving these persons auto and taxi permits," the court said posting the matter for further hearing on May 2.
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