Posted in Against Animal Cruelty, Animals, Do you know?, Games people play, Information that empowers!, News Reports, Pets, Take Action!

The law on pet owners in apartments

The Hindu published the following article on the laws pet owners have to keep animals in their houses

With apartment complexes becoming the norm, it becomes important for pet owners to understand their rights and responsibilities, for the welfare of their pets and their neighbours. Residents sometimes find a letter taped to the notice board (on behalf of the Apartment Association) that says that pets are banned and that owners must either vacate or abandon their pets.

“This is tantamount to harassment, and utterly unlawful,”says Anjali Sharma, Advocate, practising at the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court of India, who is an Executive Committee Member of, and Legal Advisor to the Animal Welfare Board of India. “Apartment owners’ associations and residents’ welfare associations cannot ‘legislate’. They cannot take it upon themselves to issue ‘edicts’ and restrict rights available to citizens. There is no law enacted by Parliament or any State Legislature that ‘bans’ companion animals. At best, municipalities and local authorities can regulate, or insist on registration or licensing of pets. These high handed circulars and letters suddenly taped to notice boards are therefore illegal. By pressurizing people to abandon their pets in this manner, they actually compel them to violate the law, since Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, declares the same as being an offence.

She notes that consumer courts at Mumbai have at least on two occasions upheld the rights of residents faced with similar harassment, and observed that in the present times, pets are akin to children. Denying pet-owners the right to use elevators or common areas with their pets has been held to be deficiency in service on the part of these associations. She therefore urges pet-owners to stand by their companion animals in the face of such harassment, and refuse to ‘give them up’, or abandon them.

These rights, however, do come with duties. Pet-owners must earn the goodwill of neighbours by keeping their dogs on leash while in common areas and cleaning up after them if they soil the place. Sharma tells pet owners that being considerate is a must, and a basic courtesy. “Be reasonable”, is her simple, yet powerful advice to pet owners. “Exercise care. Ensure that their vaccinations are always up to date. And always walk your dog with a leash”. She signs off with the advice that being a responsible pet parent is important to ensure harmony in community living.

Posted in Against Animal Cruelty, Animals, Be the Change, Do you know?, Games people play, General/Animals, Information that empowers!, Pets, Take Action!

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.