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SC Refuses To Pass Interim Order Against Rampant Culling of Stray Dogs In Sitapur District Of UP

A Supreme Court vacation bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Ashok Bhushan, in Animal Welfare Board Of India v People For Elimination Of Stray Troubles, on Friday refused to issue notice on a plea against the rampant culling of stray dogs in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh.

The killings of community dogs are an aftermath of the death of 13 children in the past few months in the district, allegedly resulting on account of attacks by dogs.

Senior counsel Vibha Dutt Makhija, appearing on behalf of applicant Animal Welfare Board Of India, vehemently urged, “Dogs have been illegally culled because of the fear psychosis created by misrepresentation at the behest of the district administration…a particular district collector issued a statement imputing the deaths to the dogs…however, all witnesses have asserted that the deaths were caused by wild animals…these animals have begun to enter the territories as they are no longer guarded by the dogs…a committee appointed has also concluded that none of the dogs are rabid or have caused any deaths…”

“There are various legalities and two distinct orders of this court that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 shall prevail over local laws…what I am praying for is the same interim direction issued to the state of Kerala…,” she continued.

When the bench did not seem inclined to concede, she pressed, “On June 1, Your Lordships had required the state of UP to respond…they have not said anything…but the district administration continues to make press statements…please at least issue notice.”

However, the bench did not oblige, scheduling the matter for hearing in July.

In July last year, the Supreme Court had, in an SLP titled Animal Welfare Board of India v. Elimination of Stray Troubles and other connected matters, observed that “the principal issue of law, that is, whether the State and local municipal law shall prevail or the Birth Control Rules of 2001 would prevail shall be decided first”.

Earlier on November 18, 2015, the apex court had noted, “…for the present it is suffice to say that all the State municipal corporations, municipal committees, district boards and local bodies shall be guided by the (1960) Act and the [Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules of 2001] and it is the duty and obligation of the Animal Welfare Board to see that they are followed with all seriousness. It is also the duty of all the municipal corporations to provide infrastructure as mandated in the statute and the rules…”

In October 2016, taking note of the state of affairs prevailing in Kerala and the public authorities taking part in beating the stray dogs to death and celebrating it, the court had directed, “Needless to say, it will be an obligation of the State of Kerala to see that the orders passed by this Court are followed scrupulously and there is no public demonstration in the manner in which the photographs depict”. However, the bench had reiterated, “In the earlier orders, we have already directed the State of Kerala and other authorities that they can go for culling as per the provisions of the relevant Act and Rules”.

Subsequently, in November 2016, the court had, in view of the environment prevailing in the state of Kerala, restrained “organisations to impart training to the children or to distribute subsidised airguns for people to kill stray dogs or to publically propagate that there is war against the stray dogs or strangulate the stray dogs or for that matter offer prizes or incentives to those who kill the stray dogs”, adding that the directions are not exhaustive but illustrative.

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