The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Nagpur Municipal Corporation to check whether any stray dogs in the city have been collared without proper registration. The court further directed the NMC to remove any unauthorised collars and submit a compliance report regarding the same.
“We direct the Nagpur Municipal Corporation to check whether any stray dogs unauthorizedly collared and if so, take steps for removing their collars forthwith and later on deal with them in accordance with law. A compliance report in this regard be submitted on the next date”, the court said in the order, while posting the matter for hearing on December 7.
A division bench of Justice Sunil B. Shukre and Justice M. W. Chandwani of the Nagpur bench gave this direction in a PIL filed by activist Vijay Talewar through advocate Firdos Mirza seeking action with regard to the presence of stray dogs in Nagpur city.
Advocate Mirza earlier submitted that some persons have collared stray dogs without obtaining their registration in order to confuse the corporation officials tasked with taking action to control the “nuisance of stray dogs”.
The court also asked all the intervenors in the case to submit suggestions regarding the manner “in which the nuisance of stray dogs must be controlled.” The court on October 20 had issued multiple directions regarding feeding of stray dogs and also directed civic officials and the police to take “stern action” against anyone obstructing their action against the stray dogs. The court had also ordered that people interested in feeding strays must first formally adopt them and only feed them inside their homes.
The court had also directed the Commissioner of Police and Superintendent of Police, Nagpur (Rural) to take necessary steps to control the stray dog menace under Section 44 of the Maharashtra Police Act. This order was challenged before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of November 16 ordered that no coercive steps be taken in pursuance of the order which prohibited the public feeding of street dogs. The Supreme Court also stayed the High Court’s observation that persons who feed street dogs must adopt them.
Mirza submitted that Apex Court has only stayed one particular observation that the interested people must take home or adopt the stray dogs and bear all expenses for their maintenance, health, and vaccination. Except for this observation, the Apex Court has not stayed the October 20 order passed by the High Court, he submitted.
Therefore, he sought directions to the NMC and the Police Commissioner, Nagpur to comply with the rest of the directions in the order. AGP D.P. Thakre for the state submitted that he has not received instructions about exercise of powers under Section 44 of the Maharashtra Police Act by the police commissioner and sought time to file a reply in that regard. The court requested Thakre to take this up with the Police Commissioner and see that “no nuisance” is created by stray dogs. “…..if it is found that there is nuisance created, it should be brought in control by the Commissioner of Police in exercise of the powers under Section 44 of the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, conferred upon him, subject to directions of this Court dated 22-10-2022”, the court said. Regarding the directions which have not been stayed by the apex court, the high court said that NMC must take requisite initiative to comply with those directions as the same “would lead to substantial reduction or elimination of the nuisance caused by ferocious and aggressive dogs.” Advocate Sanyal for one of the intervenors drew the court’s attention to the revised module for stray dogs management, rabies eradication, reducing man-dog conflict, devised by the Animal Welfare Board of India. He said that this module is based on experiences of several countries including European countries which were successful in reducing the dog population.
The module deals with the vaccination programs, sterilization of stray dogs and the manner in which it has to be done, and the nature of food that must be provided to stray dogs. If this module is followed by the NMC, it would help in reducing or removing the man-dog conflict and put an end to the stray dogs nuisance, he said. The court directed the NMC to consider the guidelines prescribed in the module and consult the Animal Welfare Board of India for the purpose of “elimination” of “nuisance” of stray dogs and taking care of welfare of the dogs. An NGO named Save Speechless Organization, which provides dog shelter homes, in an application prayed for its impleadment as a respondent in the PIL.
Though the counsel for petitioners argued they must be first asked to deposit an amount of Rs 10 Lakh to show their bona fides, the court said the NGO is running a dog shelter where it is taking care of about 150 to 200 stray dogs. The court added the NGO as a respondent in the PIL. The NGO was accordingly added as a respondent. The court had earlier directed the NMC Commissioner to look into the complaint by Dhantoli Nagrik Mandal regarding the “nuisance” created by stray dogs in that area and to ensure that the “nuisance is removed” before the next date.
The NMC had told the court that it detained about 24 stray dogs which were later on released. “However, the compliance report stating about the reduction or removal of the nuisance created by stray dogs is necessary and it is not as yet filed. We grant further time to the Corporation to file the same on record,” said the court in the order passed on Wednesday. Case no. – Public Interest Litigation No. 54 of 2022 Case Title – Vijay S/o Shankarrao Talewar and Ors. v. State of Maharashtra and Ors.