Delhi High Court has asked the Animal Welfare Board of India to file an affidavit on the status of animals of circuses that have closed down.
A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh, which was hearing a petition by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, gave three weeks to the AWBI to file the affidavit.
PETA counsel Aman Hingorani said an affidavit filed already by the AWBI did not specifically disclose the status of such animals.
“Mr. Rajesh Kumar Gogna, Advocate who appears for respondent No. 3 (AWBI) should ensure that a further affidavit is filed, disclosing the status of the said animals within the next three weeks,” the court said in its order dated August 10.
Last year, the court was informed by the Federation of Indian Animals Protection Organisation (FIAPO) that according to a report filed by AWBI, around 740 circus animals were registered with it, but in a survey only 28 were found.
The court had then directed the AWBI and the Central Zoo Authority to find out what happened to the missing animals and file an affidavit on the status of all circus animals registered with them.
It had termed “serious” and “shocking” that there was a huge gap in the number of animals found by the AWBI, as against those registered with it, when it inspected circuses across the country.
PETA India and the FIAPO had moved the high court last year for the protection of animals in circuses stranded across the country because of the pandemic.
PETA India claimed in its plea that because of the Covid-19 outbreak and the resultant lockdown, circuses are finding it difficult to feed the animals that left many of them vulnerable to starvation.
It sought a direction to the Centre to immediately notify the Performing Animals (Registration) Amendment Rules of 2018 which expressly prohibits the training and exhibition of performing animals in circuses and “mobile entertainment facilities”.
The matter will be heard next on November 11.