Delhi HC's landmark verdict highlights the rights of strays & those feeding them

All law enforcement agencies must ensure that no harassment is caused to those feeding strays at designated spots.

The Delhi High Court brought the rights of strays to the foreground with its verdict that includes details regarding feeding and management of the animals. While strays have the right to food, the citizens and canine feeding communities also have the right to feed them. As such, the court has issued parallel directives for the people and the law enforcement agencies to ensure that no harm, harassment, hindrance or nuisance is caused to the strays or those feeding them or other individuals and members of the society.

Designate feeding spots for stray animals

In an 86-page verdict issued by the Delhi High Court, the justice bench detailed a set of directions about feeding strays in the city, while highlighting that the animals have a right to be treated with compassion, respect and dignity. The High Court noted that a dog is a territorial being that needs to be fed and tended to at places, within their territory - which is less frequented by the people.

The court, therefore, has ordained AWBI and the RWAs to designate multiple areas in the locality which can be used as feeding spots for the stray dogs, which usually stay in packs. People feeding strays in these areas can stay assured, as they and the animals, both are protected from any nuisance by the power of the court.

Besides, any compassionate person can feed the strays in any private area such as the entrance or driveway of their house, which they do not share with other residents. However, nobody can stop a person from feeding the strays anywhere, until it is causing harm or harassment to them, the verdict clarified.

Resident dispute moves Delhi Court to detail guidelines

This detailed court order has been finalised in wake of a public dispute regarding the feeding of stray dogs. As per reports, one of them sought legal help to restrain the other from giving food to the stray near the entrance of a property. Later, a settlement between the two could be achieved by the designation of an authorised feeding spot.

The High Court verdict also categorised the four-legged members based on their status as service, therapy, rescue, hunting, tracking, cadaver, detection, police and cancer detection dogs. The court has further formed a committee, comprising the Director of Animal Husbandry Department or his nominee, senior officers of all municipal corporations, Delhi Cantonment Board and certain advocates, to implement the guidelines. The committee is expected to hold its first meeting by July end.

Besides, the HC also reiterated the need to spread awareness and education among the people about the rights of animals and their authority to a life of respect and dignity. The AWABI has thus been ordained to run awareness programmes, in association with media, to progress this school of thought.

"Animals have a right under law to be treated with compassion, respect and dignity. Animals are sentient creatures with an intrinsic value. Therefore, protection of such beings is the moral responsibility of each and every citizen including the governmental and non-governmental organisations.", the High Court said.

Vaccination & sterilisation of stray dogs

The court order directed concerned municipal authorities to implement vaccination and sterilisation of stray dogs, and then return them to their area. Vaccinated and sterilised dogs cannot be removed by civic officials, the court stated further. If any stray or community dog is injured or unwell, it is the duty of the RWA (Resident's Welfare Association) to secure and fund their treatment, the bench added.

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