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Centre Issues Guidelines for Feeding Stray Dogs in Housing Society
A woman feeds stray dogs during the nationwide lockdown, imposed in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, in Chennai. (Image: PTI)

Centre Issues Guidelines for Feeding Stray Dogs in Housing Society

Following the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023 formulated on March 10, 2023, by the Central Government notified answers the question of feeding strays dogs in a housing society “optimally”, the Bombay High Court disposed of a petition covering warring management of Seawoods Estate Limited and dog lovers in the society.

From published rules by the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Clause 20, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, says that feeding Community Animals in the society premises or the area shall be the Apartment Owner Association or Local Body representative responsibility who intends to feed animals compassionate gesture.

Food zones must be selected mutually – away from play areas, admission points, staircases, or other busy places. It also says that feeders must ensure there is no littering or infringement of the Resident Associations guidelines. Significantly, if a dispute arises among the apartment owners and caregivers, a 7-member Animal Welfare Committee would be created to take the final decisions.

“If this is the architecture of the Rules, then clearly there is no issue for us to decide. There is now a legislative framework that occupies the field,” Justice Patel stated while explaining that Seawoods Estate Limited would “without any doubt” fall beneath the definition of Resident Welfare Association.

But, the court took exception that the 7-member Animal Welfare Committee formed if any conflict arises, did not include dog feeders “who are themselves taking on the burden of feeding and caring for community animals.” “We believe this is necessary and we recommend it,” the justice added.

Justice Patel mentioned the Rules are not passed in a vacuum and have a legislative and constitutional context to them. The Rules passed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act’s Section 38 and Article 51-A(g) of the Constitution make it a fundamental duty for everyone to have empathy for all living creatures. Moreover, Part IV of the Directive Principles of State Policy does explain and warrant such rules to be formulated.

“Whether this is improving as far as Article 48A is perhaps a debate for another day. There is at least some law, and certainly, this has been developed overseas that fundamental constitutional safeguards guaranteed by the constitution must be held to vest even in non-human actors.” It added that there has been a sensation in HCs to acknowledge these rights. “While it has been brought in sufficiently at least in American jurisprudence to include representative action on behalf of other non-human living creatures. A recent trend in this country, in some High Courts, has been to recognize the vesting of such rights.” The court stated that these dimensions could be reviewed in a relevant case with India’s international obligations. It appreciated the fact that the Rules were not restricted to dogs only wild and excluded other animals and pets as well.

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