Supreme Court paves way for feeding stray dogs in colonies [21.5.2022]

New Delhi, 21.5.2022

The Supreme Court on Thursday paved the way for stray dogs to be fed at designated feeding spots in colonies after it stayed its own order passed two months which put on hold a direction by the Delhi high court issuing elaborate guidelines to this effect.

A bench of justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia passed the order while dealing with applications filed by several animal welfare organizations which claimed that pursuant to the stay imposed by the top court on March 4, animal lovers were being restrained from providing food and water to stray dogs, resulting in the latter’s death.

The bench noted that the March 4 order was passed on a petition filed by Humane Foundation for People and Animals (HFPA) which challenged the Delhi high court’s June 24, 2021 order despite not being a party to the proceedings before the high court. The Court was informed that the HC order came in a private suit filed between two individuals who had a dispute over feeding dogs inside their property. The dispute was amicably resolved through a settlement and the petitioner before SC (Humane Foundation) had no legal right to challenge the order in the top court.

“Since the matter related to controversy between two private parties, the applicant seeking permission to file special leave to appeal (SLP) had no locus in the matter. We dispose off the petition filed by Humane Foundation and vacate the interim order of March 4,” the bench said.

HFPA in its petition filed had produced statistics to show that about 7 million dog bites are recorded every year with victims being primarily the poor and children. The petition stated that the Delhi high court order was based on “several blatantly misleading, irrelevant and factually incorrect statements and misinformation with regard to dog behaviour, problems associated with stray dogs, general information regarding dogs and as also with respect to the existing laws.” It stated that prior to the HC laying down guidelines, community dogs were allowed to be fed in open spaces

Senior advocates Anand Grover and Aman Lekhi appearing for animal welfare bodies informed the Court that the high court had simply gone by the regulations framed by the Animal Welfare Board in allowing feeding of stray dogs at designated feeding spots. “Without giving any reason, the stay has been ordered by this court which is leading to killing of these dogs,” Grover said. Lekhi added that volunteers who want to feed these animals are being stopped by residents citing the SC order.

The Delhi HC order passed by a single judge said, “It is the duty and obligation of every resident welfare association or municipal corporation (in case RWA is not available), 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.” Such feeding has to be done at the designated spots, which are to be carefully chosen by the animal welfare board (AWB) in consultation with resident welfare associations and municipal corporations taking due care that such spots are less frequented by residents.

22 May 2022