Supreme Court of India has asked the municipal corporations and other authorities to follow the laws related to the care of animals and their control till the Court finally decides on the issue of culling of animals.
A bench comprising of Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh passed the order while hearing an appeal against a 2009 judgment of Bombay High Court where it had okayed the killing of stray dogs and a petition filed this year by activist Anupam Tripathi against culling of stray dogs in Kerala.
In its order, Bench observed:
There can be no trace of doubt that there has to be compassion for dogs and they should not be killed in an indiscriminate manner, but indubitably the lives of the human beings are to be saved and one should not suffer due to dog bite because of administrative lapse.
In 2006, Kerala High Court had passed a judgment dismissing a writ petition seeking protection of the stray dogs. Recently on November 4, 2105, a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court passed a judgment observing that the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2001, shall prevail over the provisions contained in Kerala Municipality Act, 1994 and the
Kerala Panchayat Act, 1994. On December 19, 2008, a full bench of the of Bombay High Court by majority had held that stray dogs can be killed in accordance with law.
Appellant Animal Welfare Board submitted before the Court that dogs, who have various uses for human society and have served the society for centuries and also have constitutional protection under Article 51A of the Constitution of India and the laws made, have to be taken care of.
However this view was countered with the argument that a bite by a stray dog creates menace in the society and in the name of compassion for dogs, the lives of human beings cannot be sacrificed. Senior counsel Shekhar Naphade who appeared for the the Bombay Municipal Corporation contended that the Corporation had a duty under the Act to remove the dogs that create nuisance.
Court has also appointed Senior counsel Dushyant Dave as an amicus curiae in the matter.
After referring to various legal provisions under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (Act) and Animal Birth Control Rules, 2001 (Rules), court observed:
As we find, the local authorities have a sacrosanct duty to provide sufficient number of dog pounds, including animal kennels/shelters, which may be managed by the animal welfare organizations, that apart, it is also incumbent upon the local authorities to provide requisite number of dog vans with ramps for the capture and transportation of street dogs; one driver and two trained dog catchers for each dog van; an ambulance-cum-clinical van as mobile centre for sterlisation and immunisation; incinerators for disposal of carcasses and periodic repair of shelter or pound.
As stated earlier, we will advert to the same at a later stage, but for the present it is suffice to say that all the State municipal corporations, municipal committees, district boards and local bodies shall be guided by the Act and the Rules and it is the duty and obligation of the Animal Welfare Board to see that they are followed with all seriousness. It is also the duty of all the municipal corporations to provide infrastructure as mandated in the statute and the rules. Once that is done, we are disposed to think for the present that a balance between compassion to dogs and the lives of human being, which is appositely called a glorious gift of nature, may harmoniously co-exist.
Court however observed:
Needless to emphasize, no innovative method or subterfuge should be adopted not to carry out the responsibility under the 1960 Act or the 2001 Rules. Any kind of laxity while carrying out statutory obligations, is not countenanced in law.
Next hearing in March 2016
Court has allowed the parties involved in the case to file affidavits which may contain the data of the dog bites and the steps taken by the local bodies with regard to destruction/removal of the stray dogs and data pertaining to population of stray dogs. Court has further asked the local authorities to file affidavits including what kind of infrastructures they have provided, as required under the law.
No High Court to pass orders related to dogs
Court has ‘requested’ all the High Courts not to pass any order relating to the 1960 Act and the 2001 Rules pertaining to dogs.
Read the completed order here.
Featured image by Columbo222