The Supreme Court said on Friday that no authority has the power to issue directions for indiscriminate killing of stray dogs and any culling should only be in accordance with law.
"When did this court say dogs have bigger fundamental rights than human beings? Who said that? But culling should only be carried out in accordance with law," Justice Dipak Misra told petitioner Sabu Stephen of Kerala, who favoured elimination of dogs, and said that the apex court was giving too much importance to strays.
ANIMAL BIRTH CONTROL RULES
The SC made it clear that Animal Birth Control Rules (ABC rules) formulated under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, mandated the killing of only 'rabies afflicted, incurably ill or mortally wounded dogs'.
Regarding troublesome dogs, the Act says that on receiving a complaint, animal welfare board activities shall take them away and sterilise them.
DOG CULLING IN KERALA
Though the comments pertained to stray dog menace in Kerala, it has implications in Delhi with nearly three lakh stray dogs amidst calls for their elimination.
Senior lawyer Dushyant Dave, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae, had earlier said that he felt lakhs of strays in the national Capital are an eyesore and urgent measures should be implemented to remove them from the streets.
On January 17, the court had expressed shock at a submission that such canines should be completely eliminated across the country and said that strays too have a right to live, and there cannot be any blanket order for culling.
"Look, there cannot be any such blanket order. Though culling of stray dogs is permissible, there has to be a balance and a proper method," the bench observed.
Lashing out at vigilante groups in Kerala indulging in culling of dogs and also encouraging the act, the court had recently asked the government to take strict action against them including lodging criminal cases.
WHAT DID THE SUPREME COURT RULING SAY
The bench had also banned imparting training to children or distribution of subsidised air guns to kill strays or publicly propagate that there is war against them.
The SC bench has clubbed petitions filed by dog lovers and the Animal Welfare Board of India challenging the orders of Kerala (2006) Bombay (2009) and Karnataka (2013) allowing local authorities to cull stray dogs. On March 10 last year, the court had ordered every state to sterilise and vaccinate all stray dogs in a bid to control their population and spread of rabies.
The court is reviewing rules which allowed municipal commissioners in most states to order killing of troublesome stray dogs.
Justice Misra had said that the court's task would be to end the 'anomaly and incongruity' between different central and state rules on the issue of stray dog culling.