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SHC bans all games, races causing cruelty to animals.

KARACHI -- The Sindh High Court has directed the provincial authorities and police to take immediate steps to ban all types of privately and illegally organised animal cart races and all sorts of customary games causing cruelty to animals across the province, it emerged on Wednesday.

The court also directed the provincial police chief to strictly ensure prevention of cruelty to animals in the guise of bullock cart racing, oxen cart racing, donkey cart racing, bullfights, ram fights, dogfights and cockfights, etc.

The directions were given by the single-bench court of Justice Fahim Ahmed Siddiqui last week at the SHC's Larkana circuit while upholding the order of a sessions judge that declined to give permission to hold bull cart race in Larkana.

According to the applicants, they were trying to promote traditional and cultural games in their district like donkey cart racing, bull cart racing etc, which was disturbed by the police.

Justice Siddiqui in his detailed order observed: 'These acts are potentially harmful for our society, if carried out in presence of youngsters and children, as it may promote a tendency of violence and crime in the society.'

He also referred to a study by founder director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (USA) J. Edgar Hoover on the people convicted of violent crimes such as assault and murder, which found that, in every case, the convict had a childhood history of cruelty to animals.

Justice Siddiqui also observed that bull cart racing, donkey cart racing, bullfights, ram fights, dogfights and cockfights were no doubt common customary games, but it had been noticed that behind the curtain of such customary fanfare, a planned business of gambling was flourished.

'A mere claim of an illegal practice to be a custom alone would not be sufficient to ask for a legal tag thereto. Any custom or usage regardless of long or short continuity thereof would never turn it 'legal' or otherwise', he added.

Besides, he reminded in his order that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Act, 1890 (in short, PCA Act) held the field wherein whipping, beating, kicking or otherwise treating any animal cruelly was punishable.

'It is a matter of common experience that bulls, oxen and other dumb animals carry load in bullock carts and suffer silently. Bullocks are normally slow moving animals. Even while carrying normal load, the Cart Man used to whip the bullock. To win the race and to get applause from the public, obviously, there will be violent whipping, amounting to cruelty,' the judge remarked.

He said that the PCA Act prohibited treating an animal in such manner or position as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering. 'During Bullocks Cart Racing, a continuous whipping and flogging is done to force the animal to run up to his utmost capacity, which certainly comes under the definition of cruelty with the animals as per the provision of PCA Act.', he said.

Justice Siddiqui ruled that an act, which was prohibited under the law, could not be allowed to be continued on the pretext of certain customary practice and game particularly when such practice or custom even came in direct conflict with a lawful enactment.

The single bench directed the provincial government to see that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1890 should be implemented in letter and spirit and to make functional the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and/or recognise any NGO working for welfare of animals according to Rule of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Rules, 1961.

The judge also directed the chief secretary to form a committee comprising experts and representative of NGOs working for animals' welfare and prevention of cruelty towards animals for suggesting improvement in existing legislation for eliminating cruelty against animals and place such report/suggestion before the legislature for consideration.

'All the authorities of provincial government are further directed to take immediate steps to ban all types of privately and illegally organised animal cart racings and all sorts of customary games causing animal cruelty in the entire province', he ordered.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Feb 8, 2018
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