Madras High Court

Madras High Court: In a writ petition challenging a D.O. letter which banned certain ferocious species of Dogs in India, Anita Sumanth, J., while highlighting the Karnataka High Court’s observation that the committee does not have any dog expert and hence, the classification made, in absence of any empirical or scientific criteria, is untenable, has suggested that the process should have been re-initiated without any reference to previous letters or reports. Further, the Court directed the Central Government to refrain from taking the final decision until further notice.


The genesis for the writ petition was a D.O. letter, entirely based on a report of a Committee constituted under the Chairmanship of the Commissioner, Animal Husbandry. The Committee had identified 25dog breeds as ferocious and dangerous for human life and had banned their import. However, discrepancies were found in the constitution of the committee and the results published by it, calling for the letter to be challenged before various High Courts, including the Madras High Court.

In the previous order dated 28-03-2024, the Court after going through the list of the breeds identified as “ferocious”, had said that all the breeds were foreign and the impugned order did not reveal any scientific or empirical data based upon which, the classification was made. It also stated that a large part of dog bites are by stray dogs, but that aspect has been missed, in the letter.

The Court had pointed out the ambiguity of the term ‘other purpose’, as mentioned in the letter and based on Entry 15 of List 2, Schedule VII under the Constitution held the issue to be a State subject and thus, the direction under which the letter was issued, is bad in law. Additionally, highlighting Section 151-A of the Customs Act, 1962, it had pointed out the absence of any statutory provision under which the instructions were issued by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs.

The Court had placed reliance on Karnataka and Rajasthan High Courts, who have granted absolute stay on the matter, and Kerala and Calcutta High Courts who have granted a partial stay except on the ban on import and sale of the dogs. Consequently, it directed the interim stay to be effective until further orders.

Analysis and Decision:

The Court noted that the Karnataka High Court had quashed the said D.O. Letter. The Karnataka High Court noted fallacies even in the constitution of the Expert Committee pointing out that there had been no expert on dogs in that Committee. Thus, to have banned dogs classifying them as ferocious even without the benefit of an expert on the subject, was found to be untenable.

The Court perused the available material and said that the issuance of the notice calling for objections and comments, in regard of the order cannot be faulted and thus, the respondents should arrive at a proper policy to contain the danger caused by the ferocious dogs and the preventive measures that can be taken.

The Court pointed out that the process should have been re-initiated from the very beginning, in light of the discrepancies found in the constitution of the Committee.

Hence, the Court ordered that, while the process of collating comments and objections may continue, no final orders to be passed prior to the next date of hearing.

The matter will next be taken up on 14-06-2024.

[Kennel Club of India v. Union of India, 2024 SCC OnLine Mad 1786, Order dated 05-06-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the Petitioner: Mythili Srinivas, N. Senthil, J. Baranidharan, G. Palanisamy, Advocates

For the Respondent: R. Sriniivas, A.R.L Aunderasen, V. Chandrasekaran, Krishna Prasad, Rajnish Pathiyil, Advocates

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