The Bombay High Court stated on Wednesday that if you give stray dogs food and some care, they won’t become hostile. The court was looking for a peaceful resolution between the feuding management of Seawoods Estate Limited and dog lovers from the community.

“If the strays are left unattended, that includes feeding, sterilisation, vaccination or necessary treatment when they are ill or sick, you will have a problem with the strays coming in (the society) looking for food and getting aggressive.This issue is best solved by working together. If you provide food and some amount of care, the dogs will not get aggressive.” , the bench stated.

The court further said that by feeding the stray animals, the strays’ problem in the Bombay High Court was rectified. Nobody can define a dog’s or a tiger’s territorial borders because they are unaware of the limitations of an area. Strays were a concern we faced in the Bombay High Court. We addressed it by giving them food.

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) was ordered by the bench to identify and demarcate feeding stations for stray dogs in public places. The petition was brought by six residents of the Seawoods residential complex in Navi Mumbai.

The residents had also contested fines their housing organisation levied on them for feeding stray animals. The residential complex’s manager, Seawoods Estates Limited (SEL), and the petitioners have been at odds over the matter.

The Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD), an Organisation that has been active in the field for many years, was consulted by the court during the prior hearing.

The court further said that by feeding the stray animals, the strays’ problem in the Bombay High Court was rectified. Nobody can define a dog’s or a tiger’s territorial borders because they are unaware of the limitations of the Seawoods Estate. Strays were a concern we faced in the Bombay High Court. We addressed it by giving them food.

The court did point out that volunteers would be responsible for covering the costs and physical costs associated with feeding, sterilising, immunising, and neutering animals once designated places had been located. It requested a list of these volunteers and postponed the discussion to March 20, 2023.

In light of the above judgement of the Bombay High Court, this article covers the legality and the protection of rights of humans as well as animals, which may be presented intertwined in such cases. What does the Indian Law state on this?

There is no rule that forbids feeding street animals, and Indian citizens who choose to do so are actually carrying out a constitutionally mandated obligation. Criminal intimidation and the offence outlined in the Indian Penal Code may be committed by people who try to obstruct their efforts or show aggressiveness. In addition, street dogs in India are protected by law from being assaulted or driven away.

Vaccinating and sterilising street dogs as part of the Animal Birth Control Program (ABC) is the only humane, ethical, and scientific method of dealing with them. In accordance with the Animal Birth Control Rules 2001, which were established under Section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and in accordance with the orders of the Honourable Supreme Court of India, stray dogs are picked up under this programme, neutered, given rabies vaccinations, and released in the respective areas from which they had been captured.

The Animal Birth Control Program is carried out in the following manner:

Prior to the dogs being released in the same area where they were picked up, street dogs must undergo sterilisation, which involves the surgical removal of their sex organs (specifically, the surgical removal of the uterus in the case of female dogs and the surgical removal of the testicles in the case of male dogs).

Benefits of Animal Birth Control Programme

1. Sterilisation reduces the dogs’ population and calms them.

There is scientific justification for returning a sterilised dog to its natural environment. Territorial animals include dogs. Based on the food supply, they delineate their boundaries and keep strangers out. When these neighbourhood canines are ejected from their domain, other dogs swoop in to take over. The issue still exists in that area because these might not have been sterilised. Dog fights become more frequent when non-sterilized canines continue to breed and generate litter, and as any new dog entering a region is attacked by the dogs already present there.

As none of the dogs in that region have received a rabies vaccination, the disease is still spreading. Since the new dogs are aggressive against the locals, safety issues persist. A sterilised and immunised dog doesn’t breed, guards its territory from strangers and other dogs, and develops docility and doesn’t engage in fighting with other dogs when mating.

2. Immunisation of dogs.

Having dogs sterilised is the best thing we can all do for street dogs because it immunises them and prevents them from having to give birth to puppies.For sterilisation, only dogs older than four months may be picked up.The right ear of sterilised dogs is marked with an identity mark by being notched or chopped at the tip.

India’s regulations on street dog sterilisation.

In order to execute sterilisation and vaccination of street/community dogs to reduce the dog population, the Government of India notified the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Regulations, 2001 via the Gazette of India: Extraordinary Part II – Sec. 3 – sub section.II dated 24th December 2001.

According to Indian law, street dogs may only be sterilised in accordance with The Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, which were adopted under the Indian Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 (A Central Act), vaccinated, and then brought back to their original locations. Street dogs may not be beaten, killed, driven away, displaced, or dislocated.

The Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001 specify the following in Rules 6 and 7:

According to Rule 6, even if the Municipal Corporation decides it is necessary to reduce the number of street dogs, IT CANNOT RELY ON KILLING OR DISLOCATING. Only after sterilising and immunising the canines can it release them back to where they were picked up.

The process to be followed after receiving a complaint is covered in Rule 7. Please take note that just because some people or officials don’t like dogs around, the Municipality cannot simply pick them up. Even the problematic dogs can only be sterilised, given their shots, and then returned to the places where they were originally picked up.

Dislocating dogs is specifically prohibited since it tends to interfere with and imperil local animal birth control. Dogs must be returned to their original environment after being sterilised and given their vaccinations as part of the area-wise sterilisation programme required by law. Because of dogs’ highly territorial nature, these dogs then often fight off other, newer, probably unsterilized, and unvaccinated canines from invading their territories. Displacement of street dogs has repeatedly shown to be ineffective and only encourages the entry of other, unsterilized street dogs into the region, which will not only be unknown to you but also to people who care for the area’s street dogs, increasing the likelihood of man-animal conflict.

The Stray feeding guidelines by the Department of Personnel & Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, New Delhi letter no.F.No.30/9/2006-WELFARE dated 26.5.2006, applicable for:

Government employees’ treatment of street dogs: Any government employee who commits an act of animal cruelty will be held accountable under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. He would expose himself to action under the CCS (Conduct) Guidelines for behaviour unbecoming of a government servant in addition to penalty under the Act.

Citizen groups, resident welfare associations, and others: Stray animals must be dealt with by designated organisations in recognised associations in government-run colonies. These organisations can be contacted for a resolution of their complaints. No resident association, whether recognised or not, may take independent action, either directly or through any employee. All stray animal issues must be resolved within the institutional framework already in place.

Also, it is not against the law to feed stray animals. People who choose to volunteer for animal welfare are actually carrying out a constitutional obligation to have compassion for all living things. Current guidelines about feeding stray dogs have been developed by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. The High Court of Delhi has heard these and upheld them. Their confinement inside their home communities makes annual/yearly vaccinations and area-wise animal birth control easier.

In its rulings from 18.12.2009 and 4.2.2010, the Delhi High Court states that it is “Necessary to bring into record that these individuals and families who adopt stray animals are doing a great service to humanity as they are acting in the aid and assistance of Municipal Authorities by providing these animals with food and shelter as well as by getting them sterilised and vaccinated. No local municipal authority can successfully implement its ABC programme without the help of such individuals.”

The Court went on to say that “Every individual has the right to live his life in the manner he wants and it is necessary that the so-called local police and municipal authorities ensure protection to such persons who come forward to take care of these animals specifically the community or neighbourhood dogs so that they are not subjected to any kind of cruelty.”

Three Nagpur ladies petitioned the Supreme Court in November 2022 to overturn the Bombay High Court’s ruling against street dogs from October 2022. The Bombay High Court’s Nagpur bench issued an order that forbade feeding stray dogs. It instructed the police and civic authorities to react harshly with anyone impeding efforts to combat the threat posed by such dogs, and in suitable circumstances, to also file charges against them. The High Court mandated that anyone planning to feed stray animals must first legally adopt them, bring them home, register them with the appropriate municipal agencies, and then care for them. As an alternative, they might house them in shelters.

The High Court’s ruling stated unequivocally that stray dogs posed a threat in a number of situations in public areas. According to the report, many of these stray animals are hostile, ferociously violent, and simply unrestrained in their behaviour. So, it was necessary for the authorities to step in and take action to place such canines in detention under Section 44 of the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951. The petitioners to the Supreme Court contended that the High Court order violated previous Supreme Court orders, violated the law, and harmed the rights of street dogs. There are no laws that forbid feeding stray dogs, and there are no laws that make it a crime to do so.

The High Court’s order has now been stayed by the Supreme Court, who also declared that no coercive measures would be utilised to enforce the High Court’s judgement. It has commanded the local government to designate suitable areas where members of the public can feed stray dogs.

The current attitude towards street dogs has been one of compassion and friendliness, influenced by legal and constitutional requirements. The Indian Constitution’s Article IVA declares that citizens have a moral obligation to have compassion for all living things. Animal cruelty is prohibited by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960.

In Chapter III, a number of excesses that could be considered cruel are listed, and it is declared that repeat offenders will face a three-month prison sentence in addition to a fine. The Animal Welfare Board of India, which was constituted under this Act to safeguard animals, has issued a statement encouraging kindness and consideration for dogs and other pets.

The Supreme Court is also interested in the situation. Its general stance is that street dogs should be vigorously sterilised because they also have the right to life. Street dogs should be sent to shelter homes if there is a demonstrable threat posed by them.

Thus it doesn’t take much to show compassion to all the beings around us. Just like human rights, animals rights are to be respected and upheld for a morally ideal society to function.



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