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Delhi High Court directs Centre to notify rules regarding upkeep of circus animals

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The Delhi High Court has directed the Central government to file an affidavit regarding the condition of performing animals in circuses and notify the Rules enacted under Section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh passed the order on a batch of petitions dealing with the status of animals in various circuses across the country after they were closed down, and those that do not have proper permissions.

The Apex Court further directed the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to conduct a survey of all circuses whose registrations are not complete, and report the status of animals in these circuses.

The Bench noted that merely writing letters to the police officials of states and handing them the name of circuses is insufficient, and nothing more than a paper exercise.

The Court said that the volunteers of the State Legal Services Authorities as well as organisations like the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) will accompany the officials of AWBI during these surveys.

The Bench also directed the AWBI to take up the issue with the local police and Magistrate wherever and whenever it comes to knowledge that any unlicensed circus or any other person or organisation was holding an animal unauthorisedly, so that the animal could be seized and taken care of.

The Counsel appearing for PETA, Advocate Aman Hingorani, informed the Court that though the draft Performing Animals (Registration) (Amendment) Rules, 2018 was framed more than three years ago, they were yet to be notified.

These Rules were supposed to be enacted under Section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to regulate the upkeep of animals used as performing animals in circuses.

The Counsel appearing for the Central government submitted that the process of consultation has been undertaken, and that views of several stakeholders have also been invited.

The Judges directed the Central government to file an affidavit in this regard and requested it to consider notifying the Rules without any delay, keeping in mind the well-being of the animals.

The matter will now be taken up for hearing on July 21.

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