SC stays Delhi HC order holding stray, street dogs have right to food

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed a Delhi High Court order, which issued guidelines for feeding street dogs after holding that citizens have a right to feed street dogs.

The high court had said that community dogs have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed community dogs but in exercising this right, they should not impinge upon the rights of others.

A bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Aniruddha Bose said: “Permission to file special leave petition is granted. Issue notice, returnable in six weeks. Meanwhile, operation of the impugned order shall remain stayed.”

The top court came on a plea filed by an NGO ‘Humane Foundation for People and Animals’ challenging the high court order. The bench has also issued notices to the Animal Welfare Board, the Delhi government, and other private respondents in the matter.

The NGO argued that the high court’s directions were contrary to an order passed by the Supreme Court on November 18, 2015, saying: “There can be no trace of doubt that there has to be compassion for dogs and they should not be killed in an indiscriminate manner, but indubitably the lives of the human beings are to be saved and one should not suffer due to dog bite because of administrative lapse.”

The plea submitted that despite there being an order of the top court, the high court on June 24, 2021, in a suit that was only a dispute between two private individuals, passed guidelines in respect of feeding of stray dogs in public places, on the streets and inside residential colonies, and made it applicable for the entire country.

The plea said: “High Court order is also based upon several blatantly misleading, irrelevant and factually incorrect statements and misinformation with regard to dog behaviour, problems associated with stray dogs.”

“The guidelines passed by the Delhi High Court for feeding stray dogs in public places and the streets should not have been passed as the several high courts including the Allahabad High Court in PIL… have followed the Supreme Court’s request and not passed any order on the same issues between residents and dog feeders and asked parties to approach the apex court.”

The plea said dogs may bite, attack and kill people and other animals for numerous reasons such as hunger, territorial aggression, overstimulation, redirected aggression, insecurity, fear, defense, genes, breed, injury, sickness, status in pack, etc.

The petitioner has urged the top court to set aside all advisories, notifications and circulars of the Animal Welfare Board to RWAs, municipalities, police and/or any other governmental body or citizens, on issues relating to stray dog feeding and arising out of the Delhi High Court judgment.

The high court had said: “Community dogs (stray/street dogs) have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed community dogs but in exercising this right, care and caution should be taken to ensure that it does not impinge upon the rights of others or cause any harm, hinderance, harassment and nuisance to other individuals or members of the society.”


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