Madras High Court: hearing the instant petition challenging the legality of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dogs Breeding and Marketing) Rules, 2017 framed under Section 38 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, the Division Bench of A.P. Sahi, CJ., and Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, J., held that the matter can proceed appropriately only when the Union Government also files its counter affidavit. However providing interim relief, the Court directed the State Government to undertake no further action to physically seize dogs from their owners.

The Central Government framed the impugned Rules in order to make dog breeders and their marketers accountable and to prevent infliction of any cruelty in this process. Prior to framing of the Rules, The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had invited comments on the draft Notification of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dog Breeding and Marketing Rules), 2016 where  any interested person could make any suggestion on the said draft Rules in writing for consideration of the Central Government. The instant petition challenged the impugned Rules on the ground that they were “incompetent exercise of framing a delegated legislation which is constitutionally impermissible keeping in view the nature of the definition of Entries as contained in Entry 15 of List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, which is exclusively a State subject”. Rules are contrary to Entry 17 and Entry 17B of the Concurrent List (List III) of the Seventh Schedule. The petitioner’s counsel R. Srinivas also submitted that breeding not being a defined cruelty under Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, there is no competence with the Central Government to frame any such Rules. Per contra, the counsel for the respondent G. Karthikeyan contended that, “breeding as such may not be cruelty, but, breeding in violation of certain norms relatable to dignified animal existence of pets may be excessive and in order to regulate such contingencies Rules can be framed. The respondent counsel pointed out List III Entry 17B of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution read with Section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

The Bench noted that since the issue at hand is related to the competency of the Central Government to frame the impugned Rules and whether “this incompetency travels beyond the boundaries contained in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960”; the Court thus deemed it fit to defer the matter until the Union Government files a counter affidavit. The Court also sought assistance of the counsels of both the parties with respect to any such challenge having been raised in any other Court; orders passed in relation thereto or any expert material and research documents that may be necessary to understand the nature of the arguments that are to be advanced with regard to breeding and possession of animals vis-à-vis cruelty in the light of impugned Rules. [Kennel Club of India v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 1551, decided on 22-07-2020]

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