Delhi High Court Ruling on feeding Street Dogs

*Updated: 16th March 2015

There is no law that prohibits the feeding of street animals. Citizens/animal welfare volunteers who choose to do so are in fact performing a duty cast upon them by the Constitution of India – of showing compassion to all living creatures. Recently, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), a statutory body under Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India has framed exhaustive Guidelines regarding stray dog feeding. These have been placed before and upheld by the High Court of Delhi. The orders passed on 18th December, 2009, and 4th February, 2010 by the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi, mandate not only that those street dogs will be fed, but that they will be fed in order to confine them to the localities/areas that they belong to. Confining them to the localities that they belong to facilitates area-wise animal birth control, and yearly/annual vaccination.

The Delhi High Court, vide its rulings in 2009 and 2010, have also actually ordered the Delhi Police to protect persons who feed and care for street dogs, and who are often exposed to the ire of ill-informed, ill-advised residents/administrators of those areas.

The Delhi High Court in its judgement, pronounced on 18.12.2009 and 4.2.2010, says that “it is necessary to bring into record that these individuals and families who adopt stray animals are doing a great service to humanity as they are acting in the aid and assistance of Municipal Authorities by providing these animals with food and shelter and also by getting them vaccinated and sterilized. Without assistance of such persons no local Municipal Authority can successfully carry out its ABC programme”.

The Court has proceeded to say that “the local police and the municipal authorities are under obligation not only to encourage such adoption but also to ensure protection to such persons who come forward to take care of these animals specifically the community or neighbourhood dogs so that they are not subjected to any kind of cruelty”, finally, the Court has said “that every individual has the right to live his life in the manner he wants and it is necessary that the society and the community recognize it”.

To best understand the information presented below, please read the same in a sequential order:

  • The Delhi High Court Judgement in December 2009 on Street Dog Feeding, along with a related article in Hindi and News Reports filed on this subject
  • Update on the above case as per a hearing held in February 2010
  • Indian Express Story dated 11th May, 2010 “Ministry to amend rules, give more power to friends of strays”
  • Updates on the case as per year 2011

 The Delhi High Court Judgement in December 2009 on the subject of “Street Dog Feeding”

Delhi High Court to the rescue of those who feed street animals

In December, 2009, the Delhi High Court order passed the below attached judgement in the matter of DOG FEEDING in DELHI.

Full text of the Delhi High Court Order on feeding street dogs dated December 2009 can be read by clicking here

  • · What is interesting about the order is :Its a consent order – passed with the consent of the counsel for the petitioners (individuals and Animal Welfare Organizations), and the counsel representing NCT Delhi, the Delhi Police, the M.C.D., and the A.W.B.I. ;The judge has set out why dogs must be fed – ‘ to keep them confined to a particular place, so as to subject them to sterilization/vaccination/re-vaccination, as the vaccination does not last more than one year ‘ ;The judge has clarified that in the first instance, the ‘sites/spots’ where stray dogs are to be fed shall be identified by the Animal Welfare Board of India ; and The Delhi Police has been directed to ensure that no harm is caused to the volunteers of A.W.O.s feeding dogs. (Everybody can be a volunteer of one or the other A.W.O.- Animal Welfare Organisation)

दिल्ली उच्च नयायालय का फैसला:

‘बेख़ौफ़ होकर खिलाएं-पिलायें अपने इलाके के गली के कुत्तों को’

आज से लगभग चार साल पहले, शालीमार बाग, दिल्ली की एक कालोनी के लोगों और पद-अधिकारियों ने दो बहनों का जीना दुश्वार बना दिया था, इन युवतियों का ‘दोष’ सिर्फ यह था कि वह अपनी कालोनी के गली के कुत्तों को रोज़ खाना खिलाती थी. एक दिन दिन-दहाड़े कालोनी वालों ने इन सारे कुत्तों को सीडियों से घसीट कर, लाठी से मार-मारके बेदर्दी से मार डाला. इस दिल-दहलाने वाले हादसे की जानकारी मिलने के बाद, मैं एक स्वयंसेवी कार्यकर्ता के तौर पर (उस समय मैं अपनी पढाई पूरी कर रही थी) अपने कुछ दोस्तों और इन दोनों लड़कियों के साथ शालीमार बाग के पुलिस थाने में जाकर कई घंटो बैठी रही पर पुलिस ने हमारी एक न सुनी, इस मामले कि शकायत या ऍफ़.आई.आर दर्ज करना तो बहुत दूर कि बात थी…आधी रात तक इंतज़ार करने के बाद हमारी सारी उम्मीदें टूट गईं और हम निराश होकर थाने से अपने घरों कि और चल दिए.

कुत्तों को ज़हर देकर मार डालना, पीट-पीट कर मार डालना, पिल्लों को गाड़ियों के नीचे रौंद देना, उन्हें नालियों में फैंक देना ताकि वह ठण्ड से ठिठुरते हुए मर जाएँ..यह किस्से बहुत ही आम हैं, कई निर्लज, निर्मोही लोगों को ऐसी क्रूड़ता-पूर्वक हरकतें करके न जाने कौन सा सुकून मिलता है!

जबकि गौर फरमाने वाली एक महत्वपूर्ण बात यह भी है कि भारत के संविधान के article 51 (a) clause (g) के तहत, ” हर भारतीय नागरिक का मौलिक कर्तव्य है कि वह प्रकृति, जल, वन, वन्यजीवों का संरक्षण करे और हर जीव के लिए अपने मन में करुना और संवेदना रखे’ ….तो अब आप ही सोचिये कि क्या गली के पशु-पक्षियों को खाना-पानी  डालना आखिर किस लिहाज़ से ‘जुर्म’ है?

अक्सर ऐसी घटनाएं सुनने में आतीं हैं कि आस-पड़ोस वाले जानवरों को खाना खिलाने वाले लोगों का उपहास करते हैं, उनकी खिल्ली उड़ाते हैं…ना केवल यह उन्हें गालियाँ देते हैं पर मानसिक और कभी-कभी शारीरिक तौर पर भी उनका उत्पीडन भी करते हैं… और क्युंकी यह पडोसी और कालोनी के पद-धारक इन जानवरों को जान से मारने या कालोनी से बाहर निकालने कि धमकी देते रहते हैं, ऐसे समय पर अक्सर होता यह है कि जानवर को खाना खिलाने वाला वो नागरिक अपने आप को एक बेहद कमज़ोर स्तिथि में पाता है क्युंकी इनका बचाव करने या साथ देने पुलिस भी नहीं आती तो आखिरकार ऐसे कई लोगों के दिल्ली उच्च न्यायालय का दरवाज़ा खटकाया.

….और अब कुत्तों को खाना खिलाने वालों को अपने पड़ोसियों से डरने कि ज़रुरत नहीं है.

दिल्ली उच्च न्यायालय के न्यायाधीश वी.के जैन ने 18 दिसंबर को एक ऐतिहासिक फैसले में कहा है कि, “जानवर प्रेमी इन कुत्तों को खाना खिला सकते हैं और इनसे बदसलूकी करने वालों के खिलाफ पुलिस को भी इन जानवर प्रेमी-लोगों और गैर सरकारी संघटनों का सहयोग करना अनिवार्य है.”

यह फैसला नौ याचिकायों कि सुनवाई के दौरान शुक्रवार को सुनाया गया जिनमे से दो याचिकाएं पशुओं के लिए काम कर रहे दो गैर सरकारी संघटनाओं द्वारा दायर की गईं थी (‘फ्रेंदीकोज़’  और ‘सिटिज़न फॉर वेल्फेयेर एंड प्रोटेकशन ऑफ़ अनिमल्स) और बाकी सात याचिकाएं दिल्ली के सात इलाकों में रहने वाले जानवर-प्रेमियों ने दर्ज करी थी (डिफेन्स कालोनी, वसंत कुञ्ज, कालकाजी, नेब सराय, गीता कालोनी, साकेत और नांगलोई).

इन याचिका-कर्ताओं कि उच्च नयायालय से केवल एक ही मांग थी, ” कि पुलिस को उनकी शिकायतें सुननी चाहिए और उनकी मदद करनी चाहिए जब गली के जानवरों की देखभाल और उन्हें खिलाने के ‘जुर्म’ में उन्हें अपने पड़ोसियों से उपहास और उत्पीडन का सामना करना पड़ता है.” इन याचिकायों के जवाबदेही और उत्तरदाई थे: दिल्ली सरकार, दिल्ली पुलिस (इन्ही सब याचिका कर्तायों के इलाके के एस.एच.ओ), दिल्ली नगर निगम और भारतीय पशु जीव कल्याण बोर्ड.

सुनवाई के दौरान भारतीय पशु जीव कल्याण बोर्ड और जानवर प्रेमियों की तरफ से केस लड़ रहीं वकील साहिबा अंजली शर्मा ने न्यायाधीश के सामने “भारतीय पशु क्रूड़ता निवारण अधिनियम 1962” के अंतर्गत ‘पशु जन्म नियंत्रण नियमों को कोर्ट के सामने रखा जिनमे साफ़ लिखा है कि, इन गली के कुत्तों के नस्बंधिकरण और रबीज़ टीकाकरण कार्यक्रम को सुचारू और सही ढंग से संचालित करने के लिए यह ज़रूरी है कि इन गली के कुत्तों को खिलाया-पिलाया जाए, जिससे कि उनकी कालोनी वालों से दोस्ती हो जाए और उनका वार्षिक रबीज़ टीकाकरण भी शांतिपूर्वक हो जाए… जिसमे कि कालोनी में रह रहे यह जानवर प्रेमी ही नगर निगम और यह कार्य कर रही गैर सरकारी संघटनों का इन जानवरों को पहचानने, पकड़ने, नसबंदी करवाने और टीके लगवाने में सहयोग करती है.

एक पायलेट प्रोजेक्ट के तौर पर  दिल्ली  उच्च नयायालय ने भारतीय पशु जीव कल्याण बोर्ड को इन सात इलाकों में (जहाँ से याचिकाएं की गईं थी) पुलिस, कॉलनी वासियों और इन इलाकों में जानवरों के लिए काम करने वाली गैर सरकारी संघटनों के साथ मिलकर, हर क्षेत्र में ऐसे इलाके केन्द्रित करने को कहा गया है जहाँ पशु प्रेमी इन गली के कुत्तों के लिए खाना ड़ाल सकें..इसके बाद यह योजना दिल्ली के अन्य इलाकों में भी बढाई और अपनाई जायेगी.

दिल्ली पुलिस की वकील मीरा भाटिया ने भी दिल्ली उच्च न्यायलय को आश्वासन दिया है कि, “पुलिस इस बात का ध्यान रखेगी कि इन गली के कुत्तों को खाना खिलाते समय या ऐसी किसी बात को लेकर इन जानवरों और इनको खिलाने वालों की वजह से कोई भी ‘विधि और व्यवस्था’ की समस्या उत्पन्न ना हो”.

तो अब आप बेबाकी और बेखौफी से इन गली के पशु-पक्षियों को खाना खिलाएं…साथ ही आप सरकार द्वारा संचालित ‘पशु नसबंदी कार्यक्रम’ से इन गली के कुत्तों के प्रजनन को काबू में रख इनकी जनसँख्या का रोकथाम करने में सरकार का सहयोग दें. साथ ही में आप इन गली के कुत्तों का रबीज़ बीमारी के विरुद्ध टीकाकरण करवाएं…ताकि यह नस्बंदिकृत और टीका-लगे गली के कुत्ते आपके प्रेम कि छाया में एक स्वस्थ और इज्ज़त कि ज़िन्दगी जी सकें.

(Article Text in Hindi by Vasudha Mehta/”JAAGRUTI”)

Related News Reports, dated 19th December 2009 published in leading national newspapers- Hindustan Times, Indian Express and The Times of India, Hindustan and Daink Jagran can be accessed below :

Ensure safety of stray canines: Delhi High Court tells Government- A PDF File of a news report published in The Hindustan Times dated 18 December 2009

Times of India_19th December, 2009

Hindustan Times_19th December, 2009

Hindustan_19th December, 2009

Dainik Jagran_19th December, 2009

2. Update on the 2nd hearing of the street-dog feeding case

The second hearing on this subject was held on 4th February, 2010. The court order can be accessed by clicking here.

The below update on the same is being shared by Ms. Anjali Sharma (Legal advisor, Animal Welfare Board of India)

The Court had studied the  attached guidelines framed by the Board, and filed by us (namely, AWBI Guidelines on Street Dog feeding presented to the High Court in February 2010.) They were accepted in entirety. However, since in the 6 colonies to which the petitioners before the Court belong – Saket, Vasant Kunj, Kalkaji, Geeta Colony, Neb Sarai, Shastri Nagar – dispute situations had arisen out of the feeding of dogs, the Court directed the AWBI to actually designate spots in those colonies within 6 weeks, in accordance with the Guidelines for the feeding of dogs.delhi-hc-dogs-awbi-guidelinesWhat is pertinent is that the Court has made it clear that the AWBI is to have final say. The aspect of consultation with the RWAs, area SHOs, etc. no longer finds mention in the order. After designating spots, the AWBI is simply to share the information with all concerned, including the RWAs and area SHOs. The Court has also suggested that boards be put up by the AWBI at the designated dog feeding spots – as many as are necessary – so that the residents feeding dogs at those spots are not harassed by anyone.The matter is next posted on the 10th of May, 2010.Anjali Sharma, Advocate and Legal Advisor, Animal Welfare Board of India

Please Note: The Guidelines have been accepted by the Court, and can be used in dispute situations (pages 2 & 3).

Related News Reports, dated February, 2010

Times of India_5th February, 2010

Hindustan Times_5th February 2010

3. Ministry to amend rules, give more power to friends of strays

On May 11, 2010, The Indian Express reported the following

“In what will be the first law-backed protection accorded to those who feed and help sterilise stray dogs — animal lovers who have been targeted in numerous cases in the city earlier— the Ministry of Environment and Forests is working to amend the existing Animal and Birth Control (Dog) Rules to validate the contribution of citizens who help enforce the rules.

As per existing laws, stray dogs are supposed to be sterilised and returned to their localities under the Animal Birth Control (ABC) Rules of 2001.While this was supposed to be enforced by the municipal authorities, it has proved to be virtually ineffective with the rising dog populations and mounting hostility of city localities towards stray dogs.This has given rise to furious debates in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi on whether all stray dogs should be culled.The proposed amendment now includes a “representative of the people who is a humanitarian or (a) well-known individual who has experience in animal welfare in the locality”.

Another amendment proposes to further impetus for local residents in taking the Animal and Birth Control (Dog) programme to a locality level.A monitoring committee will be set up, which will include representatives from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), municipal authorities and a local representative who has the necessary “experience” of working for animal welfare in the locality.”This amendment will validate and give official recognition to those who feed dogs and help sterilise them. This will also lead to greater public participation in the committees created for dog control. The committees will not be the exclusive domain of just municipal bodies or NGOs. Local residents can now take part,” says Anjali Sharma, legal adviser to the AWBI, which is working with the MoEF on the rules.This will address routine complaints put forth by various dog lovers who say they have been targeted, even attacked, for feeding dogs in their localities.

In Delhi over the last year, several such complaints have been filed in police stations, with as many as seven such cases of harassment coming up in the High Court.As per the High Court’s directions, police protection has been provided to the seven litigants who said they were being attacked for feeding dogs. These residents also said that they were vaccinating and sterilising the dogs. The High Court then observed that feeding stray dogs was helpful for enforcement of the ABC rules.The rules also address the issue of nuisance or rogue dogs, and how they can be dealt with if they attack humans.Dog feeding sites identified in city, AWBI tells HCThe Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has provided information to the Delhi High Court on Monday about its designated ‘dog feeding sites’. These will be public areas where stray dogs can be fed to avoid conflict with other local residents who are not comfortable with dogs. These most typically will be service lanes or areas outside a dog lover’s home. Sites have been identified at Nev Sarai, Kamla Nagar, Roop Nagar, Kasturba Gandhi Marg and two in Vasant Kunj.”

 4. The Indian Express, dated 13th December 2011 reported the following:

“Voicing its approval for designated “dog feeding spots” for stray canines in the city, the Delhi High Court on Friday disposed of a bunch of petitions by animal activists. The petitioners had moved the court to seek protection for dogs from “intimidating” residents, so they could be fed without any hassle.

Justice M L Mehta disposed of the petitions after asking the Delhi government, Police department, MCD, Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), various residents’ welfare associations and animal rights activists to work in tandem, so feeding spots could be earmarked for canines across the city. He further stated that judicial orders passed in the previous proceedings, relating to creation of designated spaces to feed stray dogs, will attain finality through Monday’s order.

Justice Mehta also asked the RWAs, which had opposed designation of feeding spots in their premises because “it would result in stray dogs biting the residents”, to sort out the contentious issues in consultation with the AWBI and civic authorities.

Advocate Anjali Sharma, appearing for the AWBI, pledged full support to the previous directives of the court and said that sterilisation and vaccination of stray dogs would be possible through feeding and confining dogs to the localities they inhabit.

Sharma further informed the court that the Board was proactively working towards designating dog-feeding spots across the city after due deliberations with the RWAs, local police and civic body officials. The AWBI’s earlier affidavit in court had also clarified that the dogs would be tended only in parts of a colony that are less frequented by the public. Streets, footpaths and entrances to houses would be strictly avoided, it had stated.

A previous court judgement had held that feeding dogs was both lawful and helpful, and would help the civic body sterilise and vaccinate them through the municipal animal birth control programme. The court had passed these orders on petitions filed by animal welfare NGOs from Vasant Kunj, Defence Colony, Kalkaji, Neb Sarai, Saket, Geeta Colony and Nangloi — seeking protection while they tend to their dogs.

Seeking the court’s intervention so the government can protect their dogs’ “life and limb”, the petitioners accused the police of “apathy” while acting on their complaints of harassment. While police said it was the civic body’s job to protect canines, animal rights activists cited provisions of the Street Animal Birth Control Rules (Dogs)-2001, meant to prevent cruelty to street dogs.”

Please read the full text of the Delhi High Court Order dated 12.12.2011_on the subject of feeding street dogs by clicking on this link 

**This page will be continuously updated as more information on this subject matter is made available
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