The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the ‘Stray Dogs Eradication Group’ and the Attingal Municipality in Kerala on a Contempt Petition alleging that several stray dogs were butchered last month, despite several SC orders urging them to abstain from the act.
Justice Dipak Misra also directed all Respondents to be present in the Court to explain their actions, and listed the matter for July 17.
The Petition has filed by lawyer and activist, Mr. Prashant Bhushan, on behalf of Ms. Nikita Anand, alleging that activities of the Respondents violate three orders of the Apex Court. The first order was passed by the Court in November, 2015, wherein it had directed all local authorities and Panchayats to abstain from killing stray dogs, and had observed that no “subterfuge or innovative methods” to circumvent the order of the Court will be tolerated.
The Bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice S.K. Singh had then observed, “As stated earlier, we will advert to the same at a later stage, but 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 Act and the Rules and it is the duty and obligation of the Animal Welfare Board to see that they are followed with all seriousness...Needless to emphasize, no innovative method or subterfuge should be adopted not to carry out the responsibility under the 1960 Act or the 2001 Rules. Any kind of laxity while carrying out statutory obligations, is not countenanced in law”
The second order was passed in October, 2016, directing the State of Kerala to ensure that stray dogs are not killed by private individuals acting as vigilantes. The Bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice U.U. Lalit had observed, “At this juncture, we have been shown certain photographs at the Bar which carries the caption “Kerala Politicians beat street dogs to death, hang them on a pole and take out a parade”… The response shall be supported by the affidavit of the Chief Secretary of the State. 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.”
The third order was passed in November, 2016, summoning Mr. Jose Maveli, Chairman of the Stray Dogs Eradication Group to be personally present in the Court and explain his actions. The order was passed after the Court was shown pictures evidencing killing of street dogs by Mr. Maveli.
The Petition now contends that despite SC orders, Mr. Maveli had organized a public meeting to gather support for people to “Participate in stray dogs eradication movement for a united stray dog free Kerala citizens movement!”
“Till 2001 all Panchayats could kill the stray dogs, not just aggressive dogs but all the stray dogs. Now SC has passed order that we can kill only aggressive dogs...we will respect the Honorable court and not question its order so we are saying that we can kill aggressive dogs,” Mr. Maveli has further been quoted as saying. He is then alleged to have killed 11 stray dogs, with help from Mr. Ranjan Varapuzha, who has been called a “dog catcher and serial killer” by the Petition. Furthermore, several officials of the Attingal Municipality have been accused of supporting the Group in its attempts to eradicate stray dogs.
Condemning such actions of the Respondents, the Petition contends, “The actions of the Respondents are setting back the progress made in the hearings of the afore-mentioned Special Leave Petition (The All India Stray Dogs case) by years every time they indulge in such lumpen vigilantism. For precious hearing time is devoted in handling their wanton disregard for the law rather than discussing the module for the management of the stray dogs population as submitted by the Animal Welfare Board of India. By their actions, they are undoing all the progress made in the main matter.”
Thereafter, demanding an action against the contemnors, the Petition avers, “That the actions of the Respondents do not just violate the animal protection laws of India but a direct assault on the sanctity of a judicial order as pronounced by this Hon’ble Court. That the Respondents have deliberately and willfully violated the orders of this Hon’ble Court. If such violations are not dealt, swiftly and sternly, by this Hon’ble Court then it will send a very wrong message to society that the orders of the apex court can be trifled with and there are no consequences for even the most open and egregious defiance. The actions of the Respondents are making a mockery of the majesty of this Hon’ble Court and invite the wrath of this Court to its fullest extent.”
Read the Petition here.