CRUEL PRACTICE BANNED: A horse-drawn carriage operator in Mumbai. The practice will be banned in the city within a year, ruled the Bombay High Court. Image: AFP / Indranil Mukherjee
MUMBAI, India - Mumbai's ornate horse-drawn carriages are nearing the end of the road after a court in the Indian city ruled them illegal, saying owners must wind up operations within a year.
The silver Victorias, styled on open carriages used during Queen Victoria's reign, have been plying Mumbai's streets since British colonial times and have been a tourist attraction for years.
On Monday (June 8) the Bombay High Court agreed with animal welfare groups, who had petitioned for a ban citing poor treatment of the horses, that the practice was cruel.
CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
The Bombay High Court verdict read: "We hold that the use of horse-driven carriages... for joy-rides is completely illegal." It ordered the city to "ensure that the use of such horse-driven carriages... shall be completely stopped on expiry of a period of one year from today".
The court also ruled that all related stables be closed down and directed local authorities to come up with a scheme to help the estimated 700 people involved in the trade.
The carriages were once a mode of transport for former Bombay's wealthy classes but they now carry tourists around the historic Colaba district and Marine Drive promenade in the south of the city.
They are often seen outside the luxury Taj Mahal Palace hotel and Gateway of India monument and have also appeared in several Bollywood movies.
Concerns over unlicensed stables and poor treatment of the horses saw the Animals and Birds Charitable Trust, with the support of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, lodge a case in Mumbai's top court.
PETA had claimed the horses were often malnourished, denied adequate rest or veterinary care, and were forced to stand in their own waste in sub-standard stables.A spokesperson added: "Mumbai's Victorian industry is inherently cruel and dangerous".