Karnataka HC orders compensation after stray dog kills 2-yr-old: A look at law that controls dog population
Ample of incidents where people have died due to stray dog attacks prompted the government to introduce the Animal Birth Control Act that requires sterilisation and vaccination of dogs to control their population and prevent the spread of rabies
The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday granted Rs 10 lakh compensation to the parents of a two-year-old was killed by a pack of stray dogs in 2018.
Justice Suraj Govindraj passed the order while replying to a petition filed by Yusub, the father. The petitioner had sought a compensation of Rs 25 lakh for the death of his son, Abbas Ali Yusub, who was attacked by a group of stray dogs when he was playing near his house in 2018, according to a report in The Hindu.
The court reminded that its directions issued to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in Master's Jishnu case in 2012 to check the menace of stray dogs are applicable to all local bodies of Karnataka and not just limited to Bengaluru city.
The case involved Master Jishnu, a five-year-old boy who had been badly bitten by stray dogs in Bengaluru's Yelahanka Town. The high court in this case approved Master Jishnu to seek compensation from BBMP in accordance with the law.
The court made it clear that all local bodies are obligated to protect citizens from stray dog attacks.
As per reports, the Belagavi zilla panchayat and Balekundri grama panchayat challenged the court that they cannot be held responsible for the death of the child. But the court countered that all local bodies are liable to take appropriate action in case anyone is injured/killed by street dog attacks.
Besides offering the compensation, the court also ordered the zilla panchayat to reimburse the petitioner of medical expenses upon producing bills.
A country troubled by stray dog menace
A BBC report of 2016 revealed that in Mumbai, dog bites had killed more people than the two deadly terrorist attacks that devastated the city is in 1993 and 2008. According to the municipality’s report to the Supreme Court, between 1994 and 2015, 434 people had died from rabies and more than 1.3 million people had been bitten by stray dogs in the city.
In 2021, Kerela reported over eight lakh stray dog attacks in the last five years. The issue came up after a 65-year-old man was mauled by a pack of stray dogs that lead to his death.
This year, India Today reported that an 11-year-old girl in Rajasthan was attacked by stray dogs when she went out in the morning.
In the past, High Courts in different states have suggested to employ the Animal Birth Control (ABC) Act to deter the menace created by stray dogs.
What is Animal Birth Control (ABC)?
The Central government in 2001 introduced Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Act which stipulates that a committee should be formed which will be responsible for issuing instructions for catching, transporting, sheltering, sterilising, vaccinating and treating stray dogs. The onus of monitoring dog bites in an area and whether or not it was from a stray dog also lies on the committee that includes member from the Public Health Department, Animal Welfare Department and a representative from Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The Act was promulgated in a hope to reduce man-animal conflicts in India.
As per Blue Cross India, before ABC was adopted, local authorities ordered that stray dogs be shot on sight. It was soon observed that killing stray dogs was not a practical solution since authorities had to return to the same area to kill new arrivals. The ABC programme also offered a more humane way of controlling stray dog population, the animal rights NGO said.
Last year in August, the corporation in Kochi restarted the ABC programme which was stalled for nearly three months due to non-availability of veterinary doctors and dog catchers, according to a report by The New Indian Express.
More recently in June, the Karnataka High Court questioned authorities on the status of implementing ABC programme while hearing a PIL filed by advocate Ramesh L Naik.
Similarly, the Bhubaneshwar Municipal Corporation issued a new SOP on Animal Birth Control. A detailed SOP stated that under the ABC programme adequate training and orientation of veterinarians and paramedic staff will be done on a priority basis, reports The New Indian Express. BMC said that it issued a show-cause notice to Pyke Sentinel, the agency that was given the responisbility to carry out ABC programme under its jurisdiction. Additionally, the agency was also asked to deploy doctors and skilled surgeons to ensure that the programme was carried out smoothly.
What laws protect dogs?
Yes, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 makes beating, kicking, over-driving or torturing any animal so as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering a punishable offence.
In 2021, the government prepared a draft to amend the Act by raising the penalty for killing or injuring a dog from a mere Rs 50 to Rs 75,000. In addition to the payment of penalty, the accused may be incarcerated for five years.
The draft, according to a Times of India report, proposed categorising offences into three levels- minor injury, major injury that leads to permanent disability and death of an animal. According to the gravity of the offence, penalties range from Rs 750 to Rs 7500.
Supreme Court paves way for feeding stray dogs
Many animal welfare activists have noted that since these dogs are not sufficiently fed, they tend to attack people in search of food and water. Lack of sterilisation, that is supposed to control high temperament in dogs, also lead to such attacksm they claim.
The Supreme Court’s order that granted stray dogs the right to be fed back in May 2022, came as a joy for dog-lovers of the country. The top court upheld a previous Delhi High Court order that said animals have the right to be treated with compassion under the law.
The Supreme Court’s move allowed citizens to feed community dogs in driveways or spots designated by the consultation of resident welfare association.
The bench comprising justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia passed the order replying to applications filed by several animal welfare organisations that claimed that animal lovers were being forbidden from feeding stray dogs water and food, resulting in their untimely death.
With inputs from agencies
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