17 April 2012, New Delhi. The ‘Stray Dogs’ matters were listed for hearing before the Supreme Court today
This is a bunch of 5 Special Leave Petitions that had been filed against the Bombay High Court order dated 19th December, 2008, vide which the majority out of a 3 judge bench of the Bombay High Court, had held that the municipal commissioner has the power under municipal law, to order the killing of “nuisance” dogs. The term “nuisance” was not defined, and the judges (vide the majority judgment), had left it to the discretion of the municipal authorities to decide which dogs constitute nuisance ! Needless to state, such an order can be construed as a veritable ‘license to kill’ by the municipal authorities, and can actually undermine the animal birth control programme, because an unregulated, trigger happy municipality, can catch and kill sterilized and vaccinated dogs too, thereby creating vacuums, and leaving territories open for other dogs to enter, and so on and so forth.
What is peculiar is that this order had come to be passed by the Bombay High Court even though the Central law on the subject, i.e. the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, enacted under Section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, clearly mandate that only incurably ill and mortally wounded dogs can be euthanized in the manner set out in Rule 9.
5 parties had appealed against the Bombay High Court order, and the lead petition was the Animal Welfare Board of India’s petition, being S.L.P. (C) No. 691 of 2009. [The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Union of India, had also appealed.] All petitions were listed before the Supreme Court on 23rd January, 2009 ; and vide an order passed on that date, the Supreme Court had stayed the order passed by the Bombay High Court, “until further notice”.
In the last three years the matters have came up from time to time before the Registrar of the Court, for the completion of technicalities such as service on respondents, etc. Service in all matters except one is now complete, and therefore the matters were posted before the Court today.
Rather than take up the matters for disposal today itself, the Supreme Court has placed them for final disposal in the first week of September, 2012.
The stay against killing continues.