The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to examine whether the Animal Birth Control (ABC) Rules, 2023, which aims to control the stray dog population without cruelty, is in direct conflict with the local laws of panchayats.
A Bench of Justices J.K. Maheshwari and K.V. Viswanathan observed that the court would comprehensively go through the relevant statutes, rules, their implementation, and problems to find a lasting and humane solution. The court said the case needed to be handled in a sensitive manner.
Senior advocate V. Giri, for Kerala, said the underlying issue was the “conflict” between the ABC Rules and laws which give local bodies the right to “exterminate” stray dogs.
Senior advocate Anand Grover, for activists, questioned even claims of human-animal conflicts raised by the local bodies.
One of prominent petitions in the case is one filed by the Kannur district panchayat, represented by senior advocate P.V. Surendranath and advocate Subhash Chandran, to euthanise “suspected rabid” and “extremely dangerous” stray dogs.
Animal rights activists said the issue was a delicate one and required to be examined legally. They claimed animal birth control rules were not strictly implemented by the local authorities. People should not be allowed to treat stray dogs cruelly by branding them “rabid” or “dangerous”. They said there had been instances of stray dogs hanged or poisoned or thrown into rivers. This should not be allowed.
Mr. Surendranath and Mr. Chandran had however recounted the case of a 11-year-old who was mauled to death by stray dogs in Kerala. They said the danger was real and present, and needed to be addressed.
The panchayat had submitted that 5,794 cases of stray dog attacks were reported in 2019, 3,951 cases in 2020, 7,927 cases in 2021, 11,776 cases in 2022 and 6,276 cases up to June 2023 in Kannur itself.
The court on Thursday said it would not pass any interim directions and listed the case on October 18 for an extensive hearing.