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HC asks government to ban cockfights

The Bombay High Court has asked the Maharashtra government to ban cockfights in the state and take action against those who organise such cruel practices which are prima facie illegal.

Cockfight in Colombia
A bench of Justices S S Kemkar and M S Karnik asked the state government to strictly implement the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act by putting a stop to cockfights.

The bench on Wednesday disposed of a public interest litigation filed by N G Jayasimha, an animal lover, who had moved the high court against a cockfight held last year in a village near Ulhasnagar.

The petition had said that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act should be properly implemented and the people be made aware about its provisions so that cruel practices against animals could be stopped.

It said that cockfights cause harm to the birds and hence should not be organised. It urged the court to direct the government to stop this practice.

The court had earlier stayed the Ulhasnagar cockfight event while accepting an assurance from the organisers that they would not hold the event.

Two days ago, the organisers again assured the high court that in future they would not hold a cockfight event.

Accepting this statement, the court disposed of the PIL while asking the government to strictly implement the Act.

According to the petition, a cockfights involves two roosters being placed in a small fighting ring and then incited to fight. The roosters may be specially bred, trained or given steroids to make them more aggressive.

Usually, a razor blade or small iron hook is attached to the feet of such a rooster to increase the damage inflicted on the other fighting bird, it said.

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 are exhibiting their natural behaviour.

Since sections 11(1)(m) and (n) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, specifically prohibit both the incitement of animals for entertainment fights, the holding of such events, and the using of a place for such fights, cockfights ought to be considered acts of cruelty and prohibited per se, the PIL said.

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