Uttarakhand High Court Intervenes to Curb Cruelty of Horses and Mules on Chardham Route


LI Network

Published on: 14 August 2023 at 11:30 IST

The Uttarakhand High Court has taken a strong stance against cruelty to animals on the Chardham Yatra route by directing the state government to blacklist equine handlers and owners found guilty of inflicting cruelty on these animals.

The court emphasized that imposing fines alone is insufficient and issued a series of directives to ensure the welfare of these animals.

In response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that highlighted the inhumane treatment of horses and mules by operators on the Chardham Yatra route, the court has ordered measures to mitigate such cruelty.

The PIL, filed by animal rights activist Gauri Maulekhi and social worker Ajay Gautam, brought attention to the mistreatment of animals like forcing them to overwork or carry excessive burdens for commercial gain, leading to their suffering.

The high court, comprising Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rakesh Thapliyal, expressed dissatisfaction with mere fines and the slow progress of criminal cases against those responsible for animal cruelty.

It emphasized that to effectively curb cruelty, blacklisting the handlers and owners who subject the animals to such treatment is necessary.

To ensure the welfare of the equines, the court directed the implementation of various measures:

1. Barricades will be set up to allow only registered operators on the route.

2. Animals will rest at night and receive warm water and health check-ups before embarking on their journey.

3. Equines will carry loads in accordance with their capacity.

4. Mules will not work at night and will be limited to one shift per day.

5. Health check-ups will be conducted prior to the journey, and provisions for warm water, accommodation, and veterinary staff will be provided.

The court recommended that only licensed mules operate in the area, and all others should be denied entry.

While the government agreed to these directives, the petitioners argued that many more operate unofficially.

In addition, the court ordered the placement of barricades and checkpoints along the Yatra route to ensure that only registered equines and handlers can cross, preventing unauthorized operators from passing undetected.

The purpose of equine and handler registration would lose its significance if unregistered individuals can bypass the barriers, the court stated, emphasizing that allowing such infiltration would disrupt the Yatra.

The high court was informed that 215 financial penalties and 17 FIRs for cruelty to animals were imposed this year until July 28, 2023.

The court’s proactive measures aim to protect the well-being of these animals and prevent further instances of cruelty along the Chardham Yatra route.

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