Rules mandating resident welfare associations to feed stray dogs challenged before Madras High Court

An activist in Chennai has challenged Rule 20 of the Animal Birth Control Rules; the Court has ordered notice, returnable by March 15, to the Animal Welfare Board of India

February 27, 2024 03:58 pm | Updated 04:08 pm IST - CHENNAI

Stray dogs seen on a street in Chennai

Stray dogs seen on a street in Chennai | Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B

A public interest litigation (PIL) petition has been filed in the Madras High Court challenging the Constitutional validity of Rule 20 of the Animal Birth Control (ABC) Rules, 2023, which makes all resident welfare associations and apartment owner associations in the country responsible for making arrangements to feed community animals such as stray dogs, on their premises.

Second Division Bench of Justices R. Mahadevan and Mohammed Shaffiq on Tuesday directed Central government senior standing counsel V. Chandrasekharan to take notice on behalf of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and obtain necessary instructions from the board by March 15. The PIL petition has been filed by an activist, S. Muralidharan of Chennai.

Arguing the case in person, the litigant told the judges that the ABC Rules, 2023 had been framed due to a misconception that animal welfare could be protected only by encouraging stray animals. He said it was the responsibility of the State and the local bodies to take care of the strays and that responsibility could not be passed on to resident welfare associations. He said it was an irony that the removal and euthanasia of stray dogs “spark sensational headlines” and animal rights-oriented criticism among some sections of society, which scarcely bothered about the millions of humans struggling without food and shelter. “It is the elitist groups, with a business class lifestyle, which want dogs to remain as strays and suffer,” he claimed.

The litigant also contended that feeding of stray dogs was an “obsessive disorder” which had led to the increase in the population of these dogs. “Today, there is a change in the behavior of well-fed dogs. They are back to their original ‘hunting in a pack’ behavior of wolves. When dogs are well fed, they multiply and indulge in biting, chasing vehicles, barking all night, hunting little children and the elderly,” he complained.

Stating that no civilised society in the world could afford to have dogs roaming free on the streets, he urged the High Court to declare Rule 20 as ultra vires and unconstitutional, since it mandates resident welfare associations to make arrangements to feed stray dogs by designating feeding spots, and empowers Animal Welfare Committees to interfere if there was any conflict between the associations and animal caregivers.

The petitioner also challenged Rule 16 which provides for humanely capturing stray dogs that have bitten human beings and releasing them after 10 days of observation if they were not found to have rabies.

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