Supreme Court stays new order 2022 on the feeding of stray dogs
Supreme Court stays order on the feeding of stray dogs
The order passed by the Delhi High Court regarding how street dogs should be fed has undergone a stay order. The Supreme Court of India has issued a stay order against the order of Delhi HC after hearing an appeal. The appeal was filed by Humane Foundation for People & Animals. It was filed to challenge the HC order. The order held that the citizens have the right to feed the street dogs and the street dogs have the right to food.
The Delhi HC also sought a response on its order by the Animal Welfare Board of India and the Government of Delhi when a plea was filed for the quashing of this judgment. The NGO filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court. The petition was allowed by the SC. The case will be heard again in a period of six weeks. During that period a stay order is implemented against the judgment of the Delhi HC on this matter.
The Order was passed by a two-judge bench of the SC comprising of Justices Vineet Sarana and Aniruddha Bose. The HC order was passed in July 2021 by Justice JR Midha. While passing the judgment, he mentioned the right to feed the stray dogs. But, this right has to be implemented with caution and care & it should be made sure that this right doesn’t infringe any rights that the others have. It should not cause any social problems.
The dogs are to be fed only in areas that have been designated by the Animal Welfare Board of India after consulting the municipal corporation or the Resident Welfare Associations. The order passed by the HC will cause social disturbance. It will also increase the stray dog menace. The petition also stated that the HC had failed to observe the difference between the behavior of a pet dog and a stray dog. The behavior of stray dogs cannot be predicted by anyone. One minute they will be nice to you if you feed them the other minute they could attack you.
There are numerous reasons attached behind this behavior which may relate to territorial aggression, insecurity, fear, hunger, sickness, genes, injury, defense, status in the pack, etc. However, pet dogs or the dogs that live with humans behave differently as they are groomed in a better way. They can be controlled by their owners and they live under their supervision. The owners can prevent these dogs from attacking anybody else in society. The pet dogs live inside the properties of the owners.
The owner could also physically stop the dogs during walks since most pet dogs are on a leash. Pet dogs are trained to suppress their aggressive tendencies. They are also fed, loved, and cared for by their owners which makes them more calm and stable. The same is not the case with stray dogs. Therefore, when these stray dogs are fed in societies, market places, parks, streets, or any other public places they impose a direct threat to the people living near the area. The pedestrians, children or the elderly, or people nearby come under a threat to these dogs.
It causes disturbance in society and also violates various laws. The Supreme Court of India has passed directions in 2009 which restrained the High Courts from passing any orders or judgment that pertains to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules 2001”. The Order passed by the Delhi HC in 2021 was violative of the directions upheld by the SC in 2009. It is stated in the SLP that the HC order resided on many misleading facts. The order resided on misinformation, incorrect statements, and irrelevant facts regarding the behavior of stray dogs.
The facts regarding the problems associated with these dogs and the general information on the existing laws were also factually wrong. The case originally started in the Inderpuri area of New Delhi. When a resident of the area started feeding the stray dogs near the property. The other residents had problems with the same. Radha Mittal used to feed the stray dogs daily near the property they used to reside in & the other resident of the society Maya Chablani filed a petition in the HC of Delhi against this act.
The petition was to restrain Radha Mittal from feeding the stray dogs. The dispute was resolved amicably. But, after the case, Pragyan Sharma was appointed as the amicus curiae. She went on to frame guidelines on how to feed stray dogs. The guidelines were framed with the help of the Animal Welfare Board of India and the Delhi Government. The petition also stated the resident welfare associations should form Guard and Dog partnerships with the help of the Delhi Police Dog Squad.
This can be done to train the street dogs to become guard dogs or at least become a little friendly to the people residing nearby. The SLP stated that the order passed by the HC could lead to an increase in the population of stray dogs. The order passed by the HC laid down that those who have compassion for the street dogs are allowed to feed them but only at their private entrances or driveways. The place where these dogs are fed should not be shared by any other resident. However, nobody is allowed to restrict people from feeding these dogs unless the action is causing some harm to them or anyone else.
The order also mentioned that street dogs act as a scavenger to society. As they help the community by controlling the rodent population and help in the prevention of diseases like leptospirosis. They also act as stress relievers and companions to those who feed or take care of them. The order also stated that in case the RWA is not available it becomes the duty or the obligation of the citizens to make sure that the community dogs are fed. The people in the locality have to make sure that the dogs have accessibility to water and food.
In the absence of the municipal corporation or the community dog feeders then the people in the local area are responsible for their health. The HC had directed the RWA to get in touch with the municipal bodies, the police, and the public authorities. To ensure that the people taking care of these stray dogs are not harassed. And no hindrance is caused to the feeders of the stray dogs. The Delhi HC ordered the AWB to formulate an animal welfare committee in each society. According to the data collected by the municipal corporation, there were approx 32,000 dog bites in 2021. Most of the bites were by street dogs.
Feeding the community dogs becomes a big issue in some residents when they bite or cause some hindrance to the people. The concept of feeding stray dogs becomes a conflict between dog lovers and the haters in society. The street dogs cannot be shipped out or exterminated as it is against the law of the land. There are legal restrictions that stop people from carrying out these activities. The animal groups/caretakers in most societies take care of these dogs. They sterilize them and ensure that their population is restricted.
They also try to relocate the stray dogs that are violent in shelters. These caregivers bear these costs on their own. During the hearing of the appeal, the HFPA mentioned that the main issue is not whether feeding the stray dogs is wrong or not. But it is whether the act of feeding stray dogs is permissible under the law laid down by the Supreme Court or not. Recently, Mumbai-based organizations like HFPA have been approaching the HC with matters related to the stray dogs pointing them towards the ruling that was passed by the SC.
As per the judgment of the SC in 2015 the HC of Karnataka had refused to entertain petitions related to stray dogs in 2020. The HC in Chennai also refused to hear petitions against the feeding of stray dogs. Another case was filed by Sharmila Sankar against RWA in Mumbai HC for imposing huge costs on her for feeding stray dogs and giving them shelters. The HC however refused to entertain her petition as per the directions laid down by the SC in 2015. The Allahabad HC also refused to take up the case where some women residents were fed up by the dog lovers feeding the stray dogs in the society.
The same was becoming a social problem and creating a disturbance in society. They were aggrieved when the HC refused to entertain the petition based on the directions of the SC in 2015 even though the stray dogs had started biting the members of the society. The decision is highly awaited since there has been a lot of problems after the guideline of 2015. According to the author, the High Courts should be allowed to hear the cases about stray dogs as it is unreasonable to approach the Supreme Court for every petty matter. The High Courts will understand the local situation better and give a reasoned judgment.
edited and proofread by nikita sharma