HC grants stay on cock fights slated to be held on Friday

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cock-fightsThe Bombay High Court has granted an ad-interim stay on cock fights slated to be held in Ulhasnagar town of nearby Thane district on Friday, saying it is ex-facie illegal and contrary to the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

Justice Gautam Patel, on December 30, directed the Maharashtra government to ensure that no such cock fight takes place in Ulhasnagar as alleged in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

The court also restrained the organisers, Mahesh Tare and Prakash Tare, from going ahead with the event; although the duo made a statement that they had not planned the cock fights. The PIL had urged the High Court to put a stop to the practice of cock fights, since these birds either get injured or die during such events.

The PIL, filed by NG Jayasimha, was mentioned by the petitioner before a vacation bench two days ago. The petitioner said he had come across a pamphlet in which it was mentioned that a cock fight would be organised on January 2, 2015 in Aashele village at Ganpat Nagar in Ulhasnagar town of nearby Thane district.

The petitioner, who is also a Director of the Humane Society International, India, an animal welfare organisation based in Hyderabad, said he had written letters to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the state government seeking to stop cock fights proposed to be held in Ulhasnagar.
Since Jayasimha did not get any response from the authorities, he moved the High Court and sought action against cock fight organisers, saying that such events violate provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

According to the petition, cock fights are events where two roosters are placed in a small fighting ring and are incited to fight each other. The roosters used to fight may be specially bred, trained to fight or given steroids in order to make them more aggressive in a fight.

Usually, blades or small iron hooks are attached to the feet of these roosters to increase the damage inflicted on the other bird participating in the fight, the PIL said. A cock fight may last from a few minutes to half-an-hour, and no matter how exhausted the rooster is, it has to continue and cannot exit the restricted fighting space.

The fight may end with the death of one or both the birds, the PIL said. Even where death of one of the birds is not caused, injuries are serious and could include punctured lungs, pierced eyes and broken bones, it said.

Cock fights are organised as entertainment and a single such event usually includes a series of fights for which an entry fee is charged from people who come to watch, it said.

A number of illegal activities take place around cock fight events and people usually gamble on the outcomes of such cock fights, the petition alleged. The PIL said that it is possible that roosters fight with each other over territory, food or mates. However, such fights would only be to establish a hierarchy among birds and would not last as long, or cause such serious injury, as in organised fights.

Therefore, such fights are completely artificial and it cannot be said that the animals exhibit their natural behaviour, the petition said. Since Sections 11(1)(m) and (n), of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, specifically prohibits both the incitement of animals to fight for purposes of entertainment as well as organisation of such events, and using of a place for such fights, cock fights ought to be considered acts of cruelty and prohibited per se, the PIL said.

The PIL contended that organisation of cock fights are contrary to the provisions of Article 21 read with Article 51A of the Constitution which require all animals to be treated with compassion. The right to life guaranteed under Article 21 can only be realised if duties under Article 51A(g) are complied with, including treatment of animals with compassion.