The Bombay High Court issued a notice to Maharashtra Government, police and other authorities on a petition seeking closure of pet shops which sell exotic birds and other animals at Crowford Market and criminal action against their owners.
A bench headed by Justice V M Kanade asked the state government and other authorities to respond within four weeks.
The PIL alleged that birds and animals were kept in barbaric condition and urged the court to direct the Animal Welfare Board to frame rules to regulate pet shops in the state.
“There are rampant instances of selling un-weaned puppies — puppies taken away from their mothers before they can open their eyes. Thereafter, they are drugged to prevent them from crying. Large birds are stuffed into small cages and are also debeaked by cutting their beaks with hot knives. Kittens are de-clawed with pliers so that they won’t be able to scratch,” the PIL alleged.
As per the data with the Ministry of Environment and Forests, a total of 8,000 birds have been seized and rescued from Crawford Market since 1993, the PIL said.
Besides, exotic birds like koels, jungle fowls, macaws, horn bill, munias, parakeets and mynahs are being openly sold in the market, the petition added.
The PIL cited a 2014 Supreme Court judgment which says that Article 21 of the Constitution of India – Right to life – applies not only to human beings but to all living beings, including animals.
Citing provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the PIL said that it was the duty of every person in-charge of any animal “to take all reasonable measures to ensure the wellbeing of such animals and to prevent the infliction upon such animal of unnecessary pain or suffering.”
The PIL quoted another provision in Wild Life Protection Act which says that trapping an animal without killing is covered under the definition of “hunting” and carries a three-year punishment.