Madras & Delhi courts rule on dog breeding & feeding

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2010:


COIMBATORE, DELHI–High Court verdicts rendered five days
apart in Chennai and Delhi in mid-December 2009 were hailed by media
nationwide as among the most significant for dogs since Maneka Gandhi
vs. Delhi in 1992.
In the 1992 case, recalled Utkarsh Anand of the Indian
Express, “the Delhi High Court held that street dogs are a part of
the city, and just beng classified as strays does not mean they
should be killed. The court accepted that sterilization and
vaccination of dogs is the only scientific and humane solution to the
so-called problem of street dogs.”

The verdict established the legal foundation for the Indian
national Animal Birth Control program, introduced in December 1997
but still just being phased into existence in much of the country.
The legal validity of the ABC program was definitively upheld
by the Bombay High Count in December 2008, after a decade of
contradictory verdicts by lower courts. But the Delhi and Bombay
High Court rulings of 1992 and 2008 left unclear when the behavior of
dogs and people feeding or harboring them can become an actionable
Madras High Court Justice S. Tamilvanan on December 23, 2009
rejected the contention of Coimbatore dog breeder D. Vikram that the
corpus of Indian dog law affirms his claimed right to keep a large
number of dogs, despite the objections of three neighbors, all of
whom have dogs themselves. A lower court had ordered Vikram to
remove the dogs.
Ruled Justice Tamilvanan, “It has been clearly established
that the petitioner is keeping large number of dogs, without
obtaining a license, for commercial purposes, and also caused noise
pollution and a hazardous atmosphere in the residential area of the
respondents.” These conditions, Tamilvan found, were the cause for
the dogs being evicted, not the mere fact that Vikram kept dogs.
Though Tamilvan in essence ruled only against keeping dogs in
“puppy mill” or “hoarder” conditions, the Tamilvan ruling was widely
misreported as an anti-dog verdict–much as the December 2008 Bombay
High Court verdict in favor of ABC was misreported by many of the
same media.
“Two major local satellite TV channels, Sun TV and Kalaignar
TV, have given their own twist to the tale,” e-mailed Bangalore
activist Gopi Shankar, “Both of them are owned or backed by the
ruling Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam party.” Word from Coimbatore,
Shankar said, was that the judgment “is being used by neighbors to
harass pet keepers. In some areas of Coimbatore, such as
Vadavalli,” Shankar said, “the police have been going from house to
house asking people how many dogs they have.”
“It is not what the judge said but what the media is wrongly
reporting that is a major cause for alarm,” responded Blue Cross of
India chief executive Chinny Krishna, from Chennai. “The judge
ruled that no one has a right to keep pets in residential areas at
the cost of being a nuisance to others. We all must promote
responsible guardian care.”
Earlier, Delhi High Court Justice V.K. Jain on December 18,
2009 recognized on behalf of dog feeder Simmy Malhotra, who fed dogs
as part of an ABC program, that, “The purpose of feeding dogs is to
keep them confined to a particular place, so as to subject them to
sterilization, vaccination, and re-vaccination.”
Justice Jain asked the Animal Welfare Board of India to
identify suitable sites for feeding dogs in ABC program areas, in
consultation with residents’ associations and humane societies that
provide ABC services. The Delhi police, Jain added, “will ensure
that no harm is caused to volunteers of animal welfare organizations
feeding dogs in these localities, provided that they feed the dogs
only during hours to be specified by the Animal Welfare Board,” at
the specified sites.
In August 2009 Delhi High Court Justice Rajiv Shakdher issued
an earlier order to police to ensure the safety of ABC program dog
feeders, after petitioner Namrata Chanda and six others alleged that
they had been assaulted by dog-haters. Despite Shakdher’s order,
the Times News Network reported, “advocate Jasmine Damkewala was [on
Gandhi’s birthday] assaulted and had her car smashed by residents for
feeding stray dogs.”

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