The apex court of India, on 19th May, vacated the stay on a Delhi High Court order from the previous year. This order states that stray dogs have the right to food and water, and citizens have the right to feed them.
Feeding stray dogs often turns into a site of argument between dog lovers and people who are scared of dogs or intimidated by the animal’s presence in urban neighborhoods across the country.
What did the High Court mention in 2021 order?
Order in the Dr. Maya D. Chablani vs. Radha Mittal and Ors’, 2021 case, the single-judge bench of J R Midha read that, “community dogs (stray/street dogs) have the right to food and citizens have right to feed community dogs but in exercising this right, care and caution should be taken to ensure that it does not impinge upon the rights of others or cause any harm, hinderance, harassment and nuisance to other individuals or other members of the society.”
It further stated that, “it shall be the duty and responsibility of Residents Welfare Association (RWA) or Municipal Corporation and all government authorities including… police to provide all assistance and ensure that no hindrance is caused to the caregivers or feeders of community dogs…”
What led to the stay order?
A bench comprising Justices U.U. Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia noted that their earlier stay had come in response to a petition filed by the Humane Foundation for People and Animals NGO. However, it was not a party to the proceedings in the case, yet it had challenged the Delhi High Court’s order.
A division bench of the supreme court comprising Justices Vineet Saran and Aniruddha Bose stayed the order of the HC on 4th March.
The Supreme Court of India vacated the stay on May 19th after a three-judge bench comprised Justices U.U. Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat, and Sudhanshu Dhulia ruled together.
Therefore, the bench ordered, “the petition was filed seeking permission to file the appeal as the NGO was not a party to the suit. It is understood that the parties to the said suit settled the matter. Since the matter has dealt with controversies arising between two private parties, the applicant seeking permission to file SLP has no locus. We therefore dispose of the petition and vacate the interim order…”
At this juncture, the country’s apex court ruling paves the way for the community of dogs to be fed and the citizen’s right to provide them at private driveways/ porches or spots designated by the resident welfare association in Delhi.