By Amiya Kumar Kushwaha
New Delhi [India], July 1 (ANI): The Delhi High Court has opined that there is a need to spread awareness that even animals have a right to live with respect and dignity and said that "street dogs have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed community dogs but in exercising this right, care and caution should be taken to ensure that it does not impinge upon the rights of others or cause any harm."
"Community dogs (stray/street dogs) have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed community dogs but in exercising this right, care and caution should be taken to ensure that it does not impinge upon the rights of others or cause any harm, hindrance, harassment and nuisance to other individuals or members of the society," the court said.
Feeding of the community dogs have to be done at areas designated by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) in consultation with Resident Welfare Associations or Municipal Corporation and while determining the designated area, the AWBI and RWA/Municipal Corporations has to be conscious of the fact that every community dog is a territorial being and therefore, community dogs must be fed and tended to at places within their territory, the court further directed.
It shall be the duty and obligation of every Resident Welfare Associations or Municipal Corporation 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.
"Every dog is a territorial being, and therefore, the street dogs have to be fed and tended to at places within their territory which are not frequented or less frequented, and sparingly used by the general public and residents," the court said.
A bench of Justice JR Midha asked AWBI to carry out an awareness campaign in association with various Newspapers, Television, Radio Channels and Social Media platforms.
It also said that AWBI shall also ensure these Guidelines are disseminated through the media and AWBI shall circulate these Guidelines to various Resident Welfare Associations, the Police Department, Municipal Authorities etc.
The court also constituted a Committee to implement these Guidelines and asked them to hold its first meeting within four weeks.
The court also said that a copy of this judgment be sent to the Delhi Judicial Academy to sensitize the judges about the directions laid down by this Court.
The court also remarked that dogs are the most protective and loyal species in the world and they live within their own packs and territory and said "Dogs are
considered to be immensely intelligent beings."
The Court appreciated the assistance rendered by Pragyan Sharma, Advocate as amicus curiae, Additional Standing Counsel for Delhi Govt of Delhi Nandita Rao, Advocate Animal Welfare Board of India advocate Manisha T Karia and law researchers Akshay Chowdhary and Anjali Agrawal.
"Animals have a right under law to be treated with compassion, respect and dignity. Animals are sentient creatures with an intrinsic value. Therefore, protection of such beings is the moral responsibility of each and every citizen including the governmental and non-governmental organisations," the court said.
"We have to show compassion towards all living creatures. Animals may be mute but we as a society have to speak on their behalf. No pain or agony should be caused to the animals. Cruelty to animals causes psychological pain to them. Animals breathe like us and have emotions. The animals require food, water, shelter, normal behaviour, medical care, self-determination," the court said.
The court also issued various guidelines including all Law enforcement authorities shall ensure that no harassment or hindrance is caused to the person feeding the street dog at the designated feeding spot and to properly implement the AWBI Revised Guidelines on Pet dogs and street dogs dated February 26, 2015. (ANI)