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SC Restrains BMC From Killing Strays - Naresh Kadyan

Animals  (tags: animaladvocates, animalrights, AnimalWelfare, law, ethics )

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Naresh Kadyan (1180)
Saturday January 24, 2009, 3:13 am
It was one of those rare days in the Supreme Court. Country's legal luminaries on Friday teamed up to defend the right to life of Mumbai's stray dogs before the bench of Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan.

Fali Nariman may have refused to assist the Delhi High Court in the judges' assets case, but was there for the canine cause, appearing for the Animal Welfare Board. And he was not alone.

T.R. Andhyarujina, who represented Welfare of Stray Dogs, and Viniyog Parivar Trust counsel Raj Panjwani, too, joined him. "A dog can not be exterminated because it barks," Nariman told the court.

"How an order could be passed that stray dogs be exterminated?" Andhyarujina asked. There were more than six lakh dogs on Mumbai's streets and the authorities were planning to eliminate 5 lakh of them, he said.

To the bench's query that a stray dog could bite people, Nariman said such animals could be sterilised. The arguments fetched the desired result as the SC stayed the Bombay HC's order allowing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to kill stray dogs.

Several NGOs and the Animal Welfare Board challenged the December 19, 2008 HC judgment allowing killing of dogs creating nuisance. The HC based the order on Section 191-BA of the BMC Rules which gives the BMC commissioner the discretion to authorise catching of a stray dog, in case of complaint.

Such a dog can be kept in a kennel for three days, and if nobody turns up, it may be "destroyed". The petitioners said the HC was wrong in allowing the killings as it gave discretion to the commissioner, which could be abused.

The petitioners said instead of the BMC rules, the animal birth control (dogs) rules, should be applied as it provided for a broad-based panel to decide the fate of stray dogs. Killing of incurably ill, mortally wounded and rabid dogs is allowed.

Mere barking is not considered a nuisance. The main controversy is about dogs, which don't fall in the said three categories but create nuisance by following vehicles or people.
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