Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A.K.Jayasabjarab Nambiar and Gopinath P., JJ., had initiated the instant petition, suo motu, to monitor State action in reported instances of cruelty to animals, as also to take stock of the measures adopted by the State Executive to effectuate the rights and freedom recognised as inherent in all animals under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Opining that actions are warranted in myriad situations, and only some had been highlighted before the Court, the Bench took an optimistic approach to identify other issues of concern and address them in the instant suo motu case. The Court said,

“Frighteningly, frequent have been the instances of cruelty to animals reported in the media in the last couple of years that we believe that the State must now resort to affirmative action to alleviate their misery.”

The Bench clarified that it was not an attempt to embark upon an exercise of laying down policies that should govern State Action in regard to protection of animal rights, rather, an endeavor to alert the State Executive to the circumstances in which, and the extent to which, it would be required to act in discharge of their constitutional and statutory obligations. The Bench added,

“We believe that a meaningful effectuation of rights can be achieved only when the different branches of Government work in concert, and it is this cooperation that we expect in the course of these proceedings.”

Based on the discussions in Court, the Bench issued following directions:

  • To the Registry to rename the writ petition as “In Re: Bruno (Suo Moto Public Interest Litigation Proceedings in the matter of executive and legislative inaction of the State Government in the matter of Protection of Animal Rights)”, as a tribute to the hapless dog that succumbed to acts of human cruelty, and disturbed by which the Court had initiated the proceedings.
  • Directions were issued to respondent-6 to file a report with regard to the action taken till date on the complaint received from the owner of the dog, Bruno, that was killed in the inhuman and gruesome incident on the outskirts of Trivandrum.
  • The Director General of Prosecution, Mr. T.A.Shaji, was requested to show personal attention in the matter and ensure that the wheels of the criminal justice system are set in motion to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice.
  • Respondent-2, an advisory body constituted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,1960 was directed to immediately draw up a feasible action plan towards implementing an awareness campaign to educate and sensitize our citizenry to the rights of animals and the corresponding duties and obligations required of the citizenry.

The Bench opined that immediate steps in this regard would initiate a change in the attitude of the citizenry towards the welfare of animals which woud avoid occurance of such gruesome incidents in future.

The Incident in Question

Bruno was killed on Adimalathura beach on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram by three men who pounced on the labrador resting by the boat owned by Sunil, one of the three and started thrashing it. They hit the dog with a thick stick, then hung it on the boat with a fishing hook and continued raining blows till it seemed dead. The Police said that the accused had had spats with the dog owner Christuraj in the past, at least on one occasion over the dog urinating near their vessel.[i]

Animal Welfare Board

The Counsel for an erstwhile Board member of the Kerala State Animal Welfare Board,  Mr.M.R.Hariraj, informed the Court that the Animal Welfare Board for the State consituted pursuant to the directions of the Supreme Court in Geeta Seshamani v. Union of India, (2008) 17 SCC 55, had a tenure of only three years, in spite of it being entrusted with the task of regulating the activities of various institutions/establishments like pet shops, aquariums, etc., as also overseeing breeding activities of animals, therefore, it was not able to effectively function during its initial tenure. Considering the grievances of the Board, the Bench  directed the State government to inform the Court regarding the steps taken by it to reconstitute, and render functional the State Animal Welfare Board.

Veterinary Hospitals and Allied Infrastructural Facilities

Opining that the veterinary hospitals and allied infrastructural facilities available within the State were in dire need of up-gradation, the Bench directed the State government to take steps to improve these facilities and issue directions to the local self government Institutions ie. the Corporations, Municipalities and Panchayats in the State, to comply with their respective statutory obligations as regards provision of animal shelters, dog pounds, cattle sheds etc., and further ensure that there is no delay occasioned in such compliance on account of insufficiency of funds. Relying on the decision in Animal Welfare Board of India v. A.Nagaraja, (2014) 7 SCC 547, wherein, the Supreme Court had recognised five freedoms as inherent in all animals, and had treated the said freedoms as akin to the rights guaranteed to the citizens of our country under Part III of the Constitution, the Bench stated that the State cannot not cite insufficiency of funds to shirk away from a discharge of its constitutional obligations.

Right to keep Pets in Residential Apartments

Additionally, the State government was directed to,

“Explore the possibility of promoting and holding animal adoption camps throughout the State at periodic intervals of not less than thrice a year, where persons can be encouraged to adopt animals that had been abandoned by their owners, and were left to wander in the streets in search of food and shelter.”

The Bench added, care has to be taken to ensure that adoption in such camps is always in the best interests of the animal concerned. Noticing that Animal Welfare Board of India had already issued instructions recognising the right of individuals to keep pets in residential apartments, and discouraging the insertion of clauses in the bye-laws of residential apartment associations that prohibit that keeping of pets by the residents of such apartment complexes,  the Bench directed State government to consider the possibility of entrusting the District Administrations with the power to enquire into complaints of infringement of animal rights and cruelty to animals, as also instances where persons are prevented from keeping pets of their choice in their residential apartments.

In order to get timely assistance with regard to identifying other issues of concern, the Bench appointed Senior Adv. Mr. S.Ramesh Babu and Adv. Mr. T.C. Suresh Menon, as Amici Curiaeto assist the Court. The matter was posted on 13-07-2021 for further hearing.

[In Re: Bruno, W.P(C).No.13204 of 2021, decided on 02-07-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 


Case BriefsHigh Courts

Manipur High Court: The Division Bench comprising of CJ Ramalingam Sudhakar and KH. Nobin Singh, J., addressed a petition concerning the germane issues regarding the non-implementation of provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and further directing the implementation of the same in letter and spirit as directed by the Supreme Court.

The facts of the case raised pertinent issues on the observance of a number of dogs being found to be taken in a cruel manner in a car. The accused pleaded guilty for the act and were fined by the CJM Imphal West. Further PFA, Manipur was asked to keep the seized dogs for a period of 7 days and later the custody to be handed over to State Veterinary Hospital or any SPCA.

The concern raised in the said matter arose when PFA, Manipur stated after a month that it did not have facilities for maintaining the dogs for a longer period. In response to the same, the Director, Vety. & A.H. Services, Manipur stated that department has no scheme under which permanent or temporary shelter could be provided to the animals and birds.

Therefore, the High Court in its order directed the State Government to release Rs 30,000 and an additional sum in its further order for the maintenance of the seized dogs. Learned Amicus Curiae brought the attention of the Court on the aspect that the State Government had failed to implement the provisions of the Act and Rules as laid down by the Supreme Court.

Hence, referring to Animal Welfare Board of India v. Nagaraja, (2014) 7 SCC 547, and various other decisions of the Supreme Court concerning animal welfare, the High Court stated that the “insensibility to the issue relating to the welfare of the animals, which has been held  to be included within the meaning of the “Right to Life” is unfortunate.” Further, being conscious of the order passed, by the Supreme Courtin the case mentioned hereinabove, the present PIL stood disposed of with the direction to implement the Act and rules as directed by the Apex Court. [Effective Implementation of Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960 and its Rules v. State,2018 SCC OnLine Mani 79, Order dated 25-07-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the petition seeking compliance of Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja, (2014) 7 SCC 547,  in the light of the cruelty to Bulls in the Jallikattu event, the bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and RF Nariman, J referred the matter to a 5-judge Constitution bench as it noticed that the writ petitions involve substantial questions relating to the interpretation of the Constitution of India. The present petitions challenge the validity of the Tamil Nadu Amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

The issues placed before the Constitution Bench are as follows:

  1. Is the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act referable, in pith and substance, to Entry 17, List III of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India, or does it further and perpetuate cruelty to animals; and can it, therefore, be said to be a measure of prevention of cruelty to animals? Is it colourable legislation which does not relate to any Entry in the State List or Entry 17 of the Concurrent List?
  2. The Tamil Nadu Amendment Act states that it is to preserve the cultural heritage of the State of Tamil Nadu. Can the impugned Tamil Nadu Amendment Act be stated to be part of the cultural heritage of the people of the State of Tamil Nadu so as to receive the protection of Article 29 of the Constitution of India?
  3. Is the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act, in pith and substance, to ensure the survival and well-being of the native breed of bulls? Is the Act, in pith and substance, relatable to Article 48 of the Constitution of India?
  4. Does the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act go contrary to Articles 51A(g) and 51A(h), and could it be said, therefore, to be unreasonable and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India?
  5. Is the impugned Tamil Nadu Amendment Act directly contrary to the Nagaraja judgment, and the review judgment dated 16th November, 2016 in the aforesaid case, and whether the defects pointed out in the aforesaid two judgments could be said to have been overcome by the Tamil Nadu Legislature by enacting the impugned Tamil Nadu Amendment Act?

The present bench had earlier, via order dated 16.11.2016 in Chief Secretary to the Govt., Chennai Tamilnadu v. Animal Welfare Board, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1397, said that there was no connection or association of Jallikattu, a festival involving bull race, with the right of freedom of religion in Article 25. It said:

“the Tamil Nadu State Legislature could not have enacted any law like the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009 as when a bull is “tamed” for the purpose of an event, the fundamental concept runs counter to the welfare of the animal which is the basic foundation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.”

In the A. Nagaraj Judgment, it was held that Bulls cannot be used as performing animals, either for Jallikattu or bullock cart races. The bench of KSP Radhakrishnan and PC Ghose, JJ had the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009 was repugnant to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA Act) and had hence, issued a number of directions to ensure the compliance of the PCA Act. [Animal Welfare Board of India v. Union of India,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 66, order dated 02.02.2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Taking note of certain photographs which carry the caption “Kerala Politicians beat street dogs to death, hang them on a pole and take out a parade”, the Court asked the State of Kerala to file the response in that regard within three weeks. The Court also clarified that it will be an obligation of the State of Kerala to see that the orders passed by this Court are followed scrupulously and there is no public demonstration in the manner in which the photographs depict.

The Court passed these orders while hearing a petition relating to protection of people from the menace caused by stray dogs. The Court had earlier vide order dated 18.11.2015 had directed the Animal Welfare Board to file a module for the same. Out of the many aspects included in the module filed by the Board, one aspect pertains to ‘Implementation Framework for street dog population management, rabies eradication and reducing man-dog conflict”. The said module recommends that Central Coordination Committee, State Monitoring and Implementation Committees and Animal Birth Control Monitoring Committees be set up for Street Dog Population control.

The Bench of Dipak Misra and U.U. Lalit, JJ asked the Union of India to file it’s response on the aforementioned module within 6 weeks from the date of this order and also asked the counsel appearing for other parties to file their suggestions or objections within 4 weeks. [Animal Welfare Board of India v. People for Elimination of Stray Troubles, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1098, decided on 04.10.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Hearing the matter relating to protection of stray dogs, the Court said that a balance between compassion to dogs and the lives of human being, which is appositely called a glorious gift of nature, is to harmoniously co-exist.

In the present case, where it was contended that a bite by a stray dog creates menace in the society and in the name of compassion for dogs, the lives of human beings cannot be sacrificed, the bench of Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh, JJ interpreted the relevant provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and said that Section 9(f) of the Act empowers the Animal Welfare Board to ensure that unwanted animals are destroyed by local authorities, wherever it is necessary to do so, either instantaneously or after being rendered insensible to pain of suffering. Talking about the power of the local authorities, the Court said that the local authorities have a sacrosanct duty to provide sufficient number of dog pounds, including animal kennels/shelters, which may be managed by the animal welfare organizations, that apart, it is also incumbent upon the local authorities to provide requisite number of dog vans with ramps for the capture and transportation of street dogs; one driver and two trained dog catchers for each dog van; an ambulance-cum-clinical van as mobile centre for sterlisation and immunisation; incinerators for disposal of carcasses and periodic repair of shelter or pound.

Listing the matter on 09.03.2016, the Court requested all the High Courts not to pass any order relating to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2001 pertaining to dogs. [Animal Welfare Board of India v. People for Elimination of Stray Troubles,  2015 SCC OnLine SC 1193, Order dated 18.11.2015]