Amid growing instances of abuse against people feeding stray animals, the Delhi High Court asked the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to allot areas to carry out the 'feeding activities in the national capital with Resident Welfare Associations' (RWAs).
On July 1, the court, in its order, stated that it was the moral responsibility of the citizens to protect the animals and directed AWBI to create an 'Animal Welfare Committee' in every RWA.
"Community dogs (stray/street dogs) have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed community dogs," said Justice J.R Midha in a report by The Indian Express. However, it was added that while exercising this right, citizens should not infringe upon others' rights or cause any harm to other individuals.
The court constituted a committee for implementation of its order and a meeting will be reportedly held within four weeks.
The committee will comprise the Director, Animal Husbandry Department or his nominee; a senior officer of the Municipal Corporations, Delhi Cantonment Board and AWBI; Delhi's Additional Standing Nandita Rao, AWBI counsel Manisha T. Karia and advocate Pragyan Sharma.
Provisions Of The Order
The court further mentioned that the AWBI and RWA should take into consideration that community dogs are territorial beings and live in 'packs'. It is their responsibility to ensure that the dogs are fed in their territories and the whole pack is attended to and ideally should have different areas to feed.
The dogs have to be sterilised and vaccinated and returned to their territory. Vaccinated dogs cannot be removed by the municipalities. In case of injury or illness, the RWA has to secure their treatment by vets from their own funds.
RWA and AWBI also have to ensure that every dog has access to food and water even if the caregivers are not available. The order also mentioned that "Any person having compassion for stray dogs can feed the dogs at the private entrance/porch/driveway of their house or any other place not shared with other residents." No person can restrict anyone from feeding dogs until and unless it is causing harm or harassment to them.
Considering there can be grievances from other individuals who are not caregivers, the court mentioned that such complaints can be made to the Animal Welfare Committee in the area, and if unresolved the issue can be brought up to AWBI through RWA.
Lastly, the court mentioned reports of cruelty to animals will be taken seriously and actions would be taken as per law.