Pets and Resident Welfare Associations (RWA): How does the law treat your pet?

Everyday, we receive many queries and calls over the Jaagruti helpline complaining about how their Residential Society’s Welfare Associations (commonly abbreviated as RWA’s) putting up notices ‘banning pets’, coming out with ‘no pets allowed’ clauses in their society bye-laws, ‘asking people to abandon their pets’, ‘mistreating street dogs’ etc. The article below by Rishi Dev of Citizens for Animal Rights, is a must-read for all those facing such a situation. This article explains as well as empowers you with information to fight your own respective battles in this regard for your sake and for your pet child..who has no one other than you in this world to fight for him/her or their rights.

Guest Post* by Rishi Dev, Citizens for Animal Rights

In 2010, the Central Mumbai Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum gave a strong directive to a group housing society who was charging a pet owner resident monthly fees for using lifts. The court clearly said – “Dogs are part of a family hence they have the right to use the lift just as any other member, and we cannot decide who is a family member and who isn’t, each family decides for itself.”

Before this in 2008 a similar order came from a lower court that clarified that pets are part of family and cannot be restricted from living or using the residential complexes.

In 2012, the Gurgaon Municipal Corporation was the first of their kind to issue strict notices to all CGHS and RWAs in Gurgaon, warning them not to formulate rules and regulations against pets and that any such move is in conflict with the law. The notices clearly stated – “Such a move may lead to dissolution of the RWA and prosecution of its office bearers, says the letter. It is illegal to remove animals from the area through security guards employed by RWAs. Nor can they intimidate residents who may be feeding those animals. Under stray dog management rules 2001, it’s illegal for an individual, RWA or estate management to remove or relocate dogs. The dogs have to be sterilized and vaccinated and returned to the same area. Vaccinated and sterilized dogs cannot be removed by the municipality too. Under Section 506 of the IPC, it’s a crime to threaten abuse or harass neighbors who feed animals.”

So what is origin of these laws protecting dogs and cats from humans who treat them unequal?

The system of law in Indian is a tiered system, based on Arthashastra from 400 B.C. & Manusmriti from 100 A.D. wherein the central philosophy was tolerance & pluralism. This is the reason the constitution declares India to be a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic, assuring its citizens justice, equality, and liberty.

The hierarchical system of Indian constitution thus forbids the lower hierarchies to overrule or override the higher orders, laws, directions or acts. This means that if Supreme Court says ‘yes’ to something, the ‘no’ by the high courts’ gets automatically nullified. This hierarchy comes down to the lowest local urban body or court. In India most courts have already ruled in favor of the animals in all respects. Hence any organization, individual or body ruling or following actions against such orders are automatically breaking the law and in contempt of the constitution and the honorable courts.

There are laws and constitutional provisions directly allowing people to take care of animals, whether inside or outside their places of work or living. The laws clearly protect people and their animals from all kinds of discrimination.  The Indian constitution states them very clearly via various sections. Article 48-A – “The State shall endeavor to protect & improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.” Article 51-A deals with the fundamental duties of the citizen.  Article 51-A(g) states – ” It shall be duty of every citizen of India to protect & improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.” Article 19 deals with the fundamental rights of the citizen. So “Right to Protect the Environment ” comes within Article 19. After the Stockholm Declaration in 1972 the Indian Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976 inserted for the first time specific provisions to protect & improve the environment. I.P.C. Section 428 and 429 provides severe punishment to people resorting to dislocation, abduction and acts of cruelty towards community animals or pets. Ministry of Public Grievances notification and a similar notification by Animal Welfare Board of India dated March 2008, provide immunity to animal feeders and restrict government employees or bodies such as Resident Welfare Associations from harassing people who try to feed or help animals. Article 25, 26, 27, 28 provides religious freedom to all citizens and preserves the principle of secularism in India. According to the constitution, all religions are equal before the State. Citizens are free to preach, practice and propagate any religion of their choice in their own way. Keeping or feeding animals is a part of the same right. The other acts which protect animals are The  Environment (Protection)  Act – 1986 & Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.

Hence, anyone taking care, keeping pets or street animals has natural immunity in the law. There are many orders pertaining to street animals by many courts. But in the recent times many RWAs have shown their autocracy over residents keeping pets. Keeping the same in mind the Animal Welfare Board of India and many municipal corporations have time and again written to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) and their RWAs to refrain from these undemocratic actions.

An RWA is a private, representative body which has no legal sanctity. It is just a group of people who have come together and formed a club. Their resolutions and bye laws are not legal mandates and especially if they violate the fundamental rights of a citizen or even more goes against an existing court order. Such RWAs can be legally prosecuted and if need be can face fines or imprisonment or both. Such precedence has been set before. If any resident faces such harassment from RWAs, must immediately approach the local magistrate and file a complaint of harassment and violation of their fundamental rights. The complaint must also be sent to ROS asking them to dissolve the RWA with immediate effect. AWBI must also be approached for taking appropriate legal action against such RWA members.

8 Comments on “Pets and Resident Welfare Associations (RWA): How does the law treat your pet?

  1. it is good to protect the rights of animals and the right of people to keep pets etc. but can that righaving to keep the streets and pavements clean of the pets waste/litter etc? Are humans allowed to relieve themselves on the road and in public places?If not , then, how can pets be allowed to, even if the court grants them the status of being a family member having the right to enter lifts etc?,


    • Mam, it is not a question of whether anyone is allowed this or that, humans in this nation break all laws made, there is open defecation and littering everywhere…even men of respectable hoyseholds lecturibg about lack of civic sense amongst fellow citizens pee on the roadside stopping their cars when nature calls….all that aside, you may request pet owners to either carry pet waste scoopers with them or contribute to pay the maids to get the poops cleaned or better still take their pets outside the colony for poop job…and you should not start pointing your angst towards streer dogs and they being responsible for pooping in those areas you are concerned about because street dogs are intelligent enough and naturally trained to poop in muddy dirty areas and also in places where they can hide a bit…its pets on a leash that are actually not allowed to choose a place of their choice to poop by their owners


    • Dear Aruna, I am not surprised to see your question cause you are one of those people who think themselves as a god the Creator of the society. We human can do such a things …. the beautiful world we made it like hell to live but its oil for us because we human think that we have right yo create or destroy anything as we are the most powerful

      Let me let you know a place where we
      All are lliving we live there once we find population we find builder houses we find all our necessary things around only then we live there. But the animals are been living in the places where no one even wanted to stand up even for a minute before all these materialistic things were created. We are the one who is making their world nasty and horrible for them to live by entering and capturing their teritorries just because they don’t have money to buy the so called lands where they have lived .. and cause we have power we put them out of their own places and build our houses on it and then say … oh dogs are too nasty we shouldn’t allow them in our premisses by forgetting that they are one been living their from forever we are the one who snatched their properties from them

      So we human should be shame on ourself … also I agree with the Jaagruti’s reply

      We human are the one need to be tied up in many rules and point finger out to one self first before pointing finger to the innocent helpless animals

      By having these such kind of thinking and cruelty towards helpless animals we prove that we are the worst creature god has ever created if we can do we would even want to throw god out of his own world and will be calling ourselves the god of the universe

      With all the respect take a walk outside of your these thinking and see around that beside animas waste & litters there are millions of other things added by us the human which dirty our societies, roads, cities, even our country and our culture … what you or we have done for that?? Why we never point our finger at our self before pointing it out to innocent animals

      I have nothing against you I have just said what I feel is right therefore I am not sorry for any of my wordings but if you do feel bad about it do think of it that what those helpless animals feel about our/ humans cruelty and how much they suffer due to it


  2. It is so surprising that selfish pet owners love only their pets and shun all other cats and dogs which do not belong to them. they will make their pets use the lifts,dirty the environment but hate orphaned cats and dogs. they will inflict cruelty to them with a vicious grudge. If some animal lover comes and feeds them they would create ugly scenes. they would harass the poor animal lover and pass resolutions to chuck them out along with the helpless pets. If some residents come to the rescue they face disapproval. one such lady who herself remains hungry but feeds some owner less cats in the building. I myself had many pet cats who never ventured out of the house. they remained with me for 18 years.just a month back one of them sounded depressed so I just took him out in the society compound.It got driven away and never came back. normally cats come back but I think some sick guy frightened him away. the other one became depressed and took ill for the first time in 18 years. it died a week back. If the rights of the animal lover who feeds the cats in the building could be protected she would be grateful. I would want to help her. she passionately loves animals and religiously comes to feed them twice a nasty couple of dubious character is planning to manhandle her.can any thing be done for her.the cats will starve if the lady is stopped from entering the building.


  3. I am really grateful to Jaagruti, you have really opened up my Horizon.I really do not know How to Thank you.
    I am in Delhi NCR, please do count me in for any thing on Animal/Pet Protection.I


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