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Animals too have fundamental rights, observes Bombay HC in Navi Mumbai stray dogs feeding case

Free Press Journal logo Free Press Journal 25-03-2023
Animals too have fundamental rights, observes Bombay HC in Navi Mumbai stray dogs feeding case © Provided by Free Press Journal Animals too have fundamental rights, observes Bombay HC in Navi Mumbai stray dogs feeding case

Fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India must be held to vest even in non-human, observed the Bombay High Court which is seized of a dispute between residents of a housing society in Navi Mumbai over feeding of stray dogs within society premises.

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A bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Neela Gokhale added, “Article 21 of the Constitution, while safeguarding the rights of humans, protects life and the word ‘life’ has been given an expanded definition and any disturbance from the basic environment which includes all forms of life, including animal life.”

Not just the Constitution, even the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and its rules also guarantee the right to get food and shelter especially when they are domesticated. The right to dignity and fair treatment is, therefore, not confined to human beings alone, but to animals as well, added the bench.

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High Court has directed people to feed dogs at designated places

The HC was hearing a contempt petition filed by the Seawood Estates Limited (SEL), through advocates Abha Singh and Aditya Pratap, against seven residents who feed stray dogs regularly at places other than the designated areas near the three society gates. The HC had, earlier, directed these animal lovers to feed dogs at the designated places, which is not being followed. Hence the society has filed a contempt petition. The residents were represented by senior advocate Anil Anturkar and advocate Siddh Vidya.

During the hearing last week, the court was informed about the draft rules notified earlier under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act which contemplates setting up of an Animal Welfare Committee for resolution of community dog feeding. It defines the community animal as any animal born in a community for which no ownership has been claimed by any individual or organisation and excludes wild animals as defined under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Animals enjoy fundamental rights similar to humans

The bench emphasised that even other high courts and the Supreme Court have clarified that non-humans or animals also enjoy equal rights to life, food and shelter like humans, subject to the law of the land.

While citing a judgment of Punjab and Harayana High Court, the HC said, “Karnail Singh & Others v State of Haryana, in the context of a cow-smuggling case expressly recognising that the entire animal kingdom has a distinct legal persona with corresponding rights of a living person.”

A Supreme Court judgment read: “Every species has a right to life and security, subject to the law of the land, which includes depriving its life, out of human necessity.”

The HC has disposed of the petition.

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Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023

It shall be the responsibility of the Resident Welfare Association or Apartment Owner for feeding community animals.

It shall designate feed spots which are mutually agreed upon. However, it shall be far from children play areas, entry and exit points, staircase or in an area which is likely to be least frequented by children and senior citizens.

Designated feeder shall ensure that there is no littering at the feeding location or violation of guidelines framed by the Resident Welfare Association or Apartment Owner Association or that areas.

In case of conflict between the Resident Welfare Association or Apartment Owner Association and the animal caregivers or other residents, an Animal Welfare Committee shall be formed, the decision of which shall be binding. If anyone is aggrieved by its decision, the appeal shall be filed to the State Board and the decision of State Board shall be the final decision for feeding of animals in that area.

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