Ban on dog imports | Centre appeals in Madras High Court against single judge’s verdict

In June, Justice Anita Sumanth had set aside the DGFT’s notification banning dog imports; the Centre has now appealed against this, stating that the order was “incorrect”; the case has been listed for Nov 8

Updated - October 24, 2023 02:30 pm IST

Published - October 24, 2023 02:08 pm IST - CHENNAI

Photograph used for representational purposes only

Photograph used for representational purposes only | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Centre has preferred a writ appeal before the Madras High Court against a single judge’s June 6, 2023 order setting aside the Directorate General of Foreign Trade’s (DGFT) April 25, 2016 notification imposing a ban on the import of dogs, except for certain specific purposes.

Chief Justice S.V. Gangapurwala and Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy have ordered listing of the appeal on November 8, after hearing preliminary submissions made by Additional Solicitor General AR.L. Sundaresan who contended that the single judge had erred in setting aside the notification.

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Justice Anita Sumanth had set aside the DGFT’s notification, which banned the import of all dogs except those that had been used as pets abroad by the importers concerned, canines required for research by R&D organisations and animals required for internal security by the defence and police forces.

The orders were passed on writ petitions filed by the Kennel Club of India, the Madras Canine Club and a dog lover C.R. Bhaalakkrishna Bhat in 2016 and 2017 challenging the notification. The petitioners had insisted on allowing the import of dogs to be used as pets, for participating in dogs shows and for ethical breeding.

The judge agreed with them that the dog import ban notification had been issued without necessary scientific studies and due diligence with respect to the possibility of harmful pathogens being carried by the imported animals and the threat they might pose to native species.

However, in the grounds of appeal, filed through Central Government Senior Standing Counsel V. Chandrasekhar, the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry as well as the DGFT said, “The order of the honourable judge is erroneous, incorrect and deserves to be set aside.”

The Centre also contended it was beyond the scope of judicial review under Article 226 (writ jurisdiction) of the Constitution, for the High Court to interfere with policy decisions of the government. It claimed that the writ petitions were filed in 2016 and 2017 on the sole ground of DGFT having usurped the power of the Centre, and, the Centre said, such a ground would not hold good in view of a 2020 judgement of the Supreme Court in Union of India versus AGRICAS LLP, wherein it had been categorically held that the DGFT was very much a part of the government and therefore, was fully empowered to issue such notifications.

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