In a huge relief to animal welfare organisations and volunteers involved in feeding stray dogs, the Supreme Court on Thursday lifted the interim stay on the operation of the Delhi high court order relating to the feeding of stray dogs and also stayed the same.
The Supreme Court disposed of the petition filed by the Humane Foundation for People and Animals challenging the Delhi high court order of June 26, 2021, wherein certain guidelines and directions regarding the feeding of stray dogs were passed, and vacated the interim stay granted earlier in the petition by the top court order dated March 4, 2022.
Several impleaders were before the court on Thursday pointing out how the stay order had created a hostile environment for the dogs and led to many instances of harassment of volunteers of animal welfare organisations and feeders.
Senior advocates Aman Lekhi and Anand Grover appeared for intervenors Friendicoes SECA, who had also moved an application for impleadment and was represented by Ritin Rai, senior advocate instructed by Karanjawala and Co.
The Delhi high court order dated June 24, 2021, dealt with directions on the feeding of stray dogs. The petition was filed by the Humane Foundation for People and Animals, a not-for-profit organisation whose main goal is the resolution of the human-animal conflict in society.
According to the petition, the Delhi high court had passed the directions/guidelines for feeding stray dogs with reference to ‘The Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001’ and ‘The Prevention of cruelty to Animals Act, 1960’ despite there being an order passed by the Supreme Court vide order dated 18/11/2015 directing the "high courts not to pass any order relating to the 1960 Act and the 2001 Rules pertaining to dogs."
The Delhi high court had opined that there is a need to spread awareness that even animals have a right to live with respect and dignity and said that "street dogs have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed community dogs but in exercising this right, care and caution should be taken to ensure that it does not impinge upon the rights of others or cause any harm."
Feeding of community dogs have to be done at areas designated by the Animal Welfare Board of India in consultation with resident welfare associations or the municipal corporation and while determining the designated area, the AWBI and RWA/municipal corporations has to be conscious of the fact that every community dog is a territorial being and therefore, community dogs must be fed and tended to at places within their territory, the high court had further directed.
It shall be the duty and obligation of every resident welfare associations or municipal corporation to ensure that every community dog in every area has access to food and water in the absence of caregivers or community dog feeders in the said area.
The Delhi high court had asked AWBI to carry out an awareness campaign in association with various newspapers, television, radio channels and social media platforms. It had also said that AWBI shall also ensure these guidelines are disseminated through the media and AWBI shall circulate these guidelines to various resident welfare associations, the police department, municipal authorities etc.
The court had also issued various guidelines including all law enforcement authorities shall ensure that no harassment or hindrance is caused to the person feeding the street dog at the designated feeding spot and to properly implement the AWBI revised guidelines on pet dogs and street dogs dated February 26, 2015.