A Supreme Court bench comprising of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice A.K. Mishra has stayed an order of the Uttarakhand High Court which had directed Nainital Municipal Corporation and the State Government to pay a compensation of Rs. 2 lakhs to all victims of simian and canine attacks.
The Apex Court stayed only the directions relating to payment of compensation and not the ones relating to steps to be taken to curb the menace.
The State claimed before the Supreme Court that after the High Court’s judgment, already five complaints were received from victims of dog bites, claiming compensation and there was a possibility of false claims being made.
The High Court order had highlighted the mounting frustration over failure of the local authorities to curb the menace and bring the rising urban monkey and dog populations under control.
It had hence ordered payment of Rs. 1 lakh to be paid by the Municipality and 1 lakh to be paid by the State Government, within a week from the date of dog biting. It further directed that in the case of ape and monkey biting, the victim shall also be paid Rs 2 lakh by the state government. It had also asked the civic body and the state government to compensate up to Rs 2 lakh to pedestrians who were injured by stray cows and bulls in Nainital, Haldwani, Ramnagar and Lal Kuan.
Monkeys had reportedly been tried to be put on the pill by mixing contraceptive medicines into food left for them and deployed larger, more aggressive langurs to scare the smaller rhesus macaques away. This was however banned last year.
Advocate Manish Kumar, representing the State, was quoted as saying that the High Court ruling was illegal as the law does not require local authorities to stop monkeys and dogs from biting humans.
The Nainital Municipal Corporation cited the Animal Birth Control (ABC) Rules, 2001 and said there was no provision casting a duty on the civic body to "prevent a dog bite". It said the duty cast on the civic body was to sterilize stray dogs. "It may be noted that a dog which has been sterilized may still bite a person on which the concerned authority has got no control," it said.
Advocate Kumar said that even assuming that the High Court was within its jurisdiction to pass the order, its implementation will be extremely difficult.