Adopting a humane touch, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday frowned at hatred and cruelty to stray dogs terming it as unacceptable from persons of civil society and cautioned that "such cruelty would be against the Constitutional ethos and statutory provisions".
A division bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and R.N. Laddha was hearing a petition filed by a dog-lover of a Mumbai cooperative housing society alleging cruelty to 18 stray dogs as its managing committee was not ready to provide a designated feeding spot to feed them and threatened to hire bouncers to restrain her.
The bench cited the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Animal Birth Control Rules, and said it would be an obligation of all the society members to follow them and to avoid causing any harassment or cruelty to the animals or those wanting to care for them.
It also directed the society management to inform them of the designated (feeding) spot as well as other welfare measures for the dogs, by April 6, when the matter would be heard again.
The directions came in a petition, filed through advocate Nishad Nevgi, by animal lover, Paromita Purthan, living in RNA Royale Park CHS, Kandivali west, where she was feeding 18 stray canines.
Purthan informed the court of a Managing Committee resolution of November 13, 2022 allowing feeding the dogs at a specified place but the society had not allotted the feeding spot in the huge society complex.
Sounding a caution to the society and all its members, the bench said: "To hate stray dogs and/or treat them with cruelty can never be an acceptable approach, from persons of civil society, as an act of cruelty to such animals would be against the Constitutional ethos and the statutory provisions."
It also asked the society`s lawyer Vibha Mishra to inform the court of the designated (feeding) place, and welfare measures to help and pursue the cause of these animals so that they are cared for and their rights protected in the spirit of the laws.
The petitioner had pointed out how she was not allowed to feed the dogs, provide them water, not being given a designated feeding spot within the Society complex spread over a huge area, and she was being forced to feed the dogs at the society gates where they faced risk of accidents and possible death.
Noting that these dogs have territorial affinity to the Society, Justice Kulkarni and Justice Laddha also cited examples of lawyers or judges who cared for many stray dogs and cats in the high court complex, and how an ex-judge would carry biscuits with him for the strays.
The judges said that the "animals are also living beings and a part of our society and we have to take care of them", while frowning at how everything "non-cooperative happens in a cooperative society".
The court directed the society and the petitioner to amicably resolve their issues and will hear the matter further on April 6, till when Purthan can continue feeding the stray dogs in the society`s parking area.