The High Court has overturned its temporary injunction which had suspended the Delhi High Court’s order on feeding stray dogs in the national capital.
A three-judge panel chaired by Justice UU Lalit vacated the stay after being informed that the parties before the Supreme Court had settled the matter. It also noted that the NGO that halted the March 4 Supreme Court order based on its claim was not a party to the proceedings before the Supreme Court and therefore lacks the right to seek leave to appeal the Supreme Court order.
Hearing an appeal by a humanitarian NGO for people and animals, the Supreme Court on March 4 halted the Supreme Court’s order of June 24, 2021. The NGO also requested court permission to file a Special Leave Petition (SLP) to challenge the Supreme Court’s application.
Subsequently, attorney Prerna Singh filed an implicit suit in the matter requesting the lifting of the moratorium. During its hearing, the court was informed that the parties to the case had accepted the High Commissioner’s settlement.
In its order, the Supreme Court said, after noting, “It is understood that the parties to the suit settled the matter. Because it dealt with disagreements that had arisen between two private parties, an applicant seeking permission to file an SLP has no statutory right. Therefore, we dispose of from the petition and rescind the temporary order of 04.03.2022.”
The Supreme Court’s order came at the request of one party in a property dispute urging the court to prohibit the other party from feeding community dogs near the entrance or exit of the property in question.
In making this decision, Judge JR Medha said that animals have the right by law to be treated with compassion, respect and dignity, and asked the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to designate areas in consultation with Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) to feed the community dogs. The court reminded that protecting the animals is the responsibility of every citizen, and issued directives from the AWBI to ensure that each RWA constitutes an animal welfare committee.
“Community dogs (street/stray dogs) have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed the community dogs but when exercising this right, care and caution must be taken to ensure that the rights of others are not harmed, obstructed, harassed and inconvenienced to other individuals or members of the community,” the Supreme Court said. “.
The court issued guidelines for the care of community dogs, and also formed a committee to enforce its order.
“While defining the ‘designated area’, the AWBI and RWA/municipalities must be aware of the fact that each community dog is a territorial organism and, therefore, that community dogs must be fed and cared for in places within their territory. It is the duty of the AWBI and RWAs to ensure the fact that community dogs live in ‘Packs’ are remembered, and AWBI and RWAs should take care to ensure that each ‘pack’ ideally has different designated areas for feeding even if this means allocating multiple areas in an area.”
The Supreme Court has also directed all law enforcement authorities to ensure that there is no harassment or obstruction of people feeding street dogs in designated places. She added that RWAs or municipal companies need to ensure that every community dog in every area has access to food and water in the absence of caregivers or community dog feeders.