District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Gurugram: While deciding the instant matter wherein the complainant applied for medical assistance due to being viciously bitten by the dog belonging to the opposite party thereby causing deep wounds, the Commission issued stringent interim order for the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram directing them the following:
The Corporation was directed to ensure proper compliance of Govt. of India’s extraordinary notification dt. 25-04-2016 and completely ban the pet dogs of 11 foreign breeds like- American Pit- Bull Terrier; Dogo Argentino; Rottweiler; Napolean Mastiff; American Bulldog etc., with immediate effect from 15-11-2022. The Corporation was further directed to cancel all licences issued in favour of the dog owners of these 11 breeds.
It was directed that the Corporation must make the registration of pet dogs compulsory with effect from 15-11-2022. The licenses must be issued within one month from the registration. The license fee shall not be less than Rs. 12,000 p.a. and renewal fee shall not be less than 10,000 p.a.
Corporation must ensure than all the registered pet dogs shall wear a collar attached with a metal token.
The Corporation was directed to ensure “one family- one dog”. It was directed that when the pet dogs are taken to public spaces, it must be ensured that their mouths are covered with a net cap. The owner of a registered pet dog must also carry with them a “dog shit bag and dog shit plucker” so that public places can be kept hygienic.
The Commission strictly directed the Municipal Corporation to issue a public notification informing the public of these directions with a warning that any non-compliance shall be dealt with the violator’s pet dog being taken into custody along with a monetary penalty of Rs 20,000 extending up to Rs 2 Lakhs and imprisonment in case of default.
Facts of the Case: The complainant, a resident of Civil Lines, Gurugram, alleged that the opposite party had unleashed her wild dog in the locality of civil lines. Consequently, she was harshly bitten by the said dog and sustained deep injuries on different parts of her body including head. The complainant thus claimed a monetary assistance to the tune of Rs. 10,00,000 in order to fulfil her medical, dietary expenses and miscellaneous expenses.
Contentions: The opposite party-1 whose dog caused the mayhem, contended that the complaint was not maintainable as the complainant was not her ‘consumer’. The Commission was surprised when the Gurugram Municipal Corporation took the same plea.
The Corporation also disputed the locus of the complainant and the Commission’s jurisdiction over the matter.
Analysis: The Commission noted that the dog in question belonged to the ‘Dogo Argentino’ breed. However, it was later found out that the dog did not belong to the opposite party but to someone else. The Commission also observed that the complainant indeed sustained grave injuries and was recommended a protracted treatment for the same.
The Commission found merit in the contentions raised by the opposite party-1 that the complainant is not her consumer. However, the Commission refused to accord credence to the challenge taken by the Corporation over the Commission’s jurisdiction and the complainant’s locus standi in view of Section 34 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
The Commission found merit with the contention raised by the complainant that all persons residing within the municipal limits of the Gurugram Municipal Corporation, are, expressly and impliedly the consumers of the Corporation, as they are taxpayers.
The Commission taking note of the Notification dt. 25-04-2020 issued by the Govt. of India, observed that 11 afore-stated foreign dog breeds including ‘Dogo Argentino’, are already banned in India. It was strictly observed that despite the existing Notification, the Gurugram Municipal Corporation did not rise to the occasion vis-à-vis compliance. Sections 309 to 311 of Haryana Municipal Act, 1994 were also noted by the Commission.
The Commission further observed that photographic evidence of sustained injuries presented by the complainant, sent shivers down their spines.
Decision and Further Directions: With the afore-stated observations, the Commission directed the Corporation to take into custody the dog belonging to opposite party-1.
The Commission directed the Corporation to pay compensation of Rs. 2 Lakhs to the victim. Since the opposite party-1 had violated the law of the land by keeping a banned breed, therefore the Corporation is at liberty to recover the compensation amount from her.
Taking note of the complainant’s vehement contentions of the country turning into “Dogistan instead of Hindustan” due to an increased number of vicious attacks by pet dogs and stray dogs, the Commission issued further directions regarding stray dogs in the municipal area—
All stray dogs within the limit of Gurugram Municipal Corporation, must be taken into custody and must be kept in dog ponds. The Corporation along with the assistance from NGOs, must ensure that such dogs are giver proper food, care and necessary vaccines.
Gurugram Corporation must frame proper rules for awarding compensation in cases of dog bites.
The Corporation was directed to take appropriate steps in sync with the Commission’s directions regarding pet and stray dogs within 3 months.
[Munni v. Neetu Chhikara, CC No. 741 of 2022, decided on 15-11-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Sandeep Saini for the Complainant;
Rahul Yadav for OP-1;
Vivek Verma for OP-2.
*Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has prepared this brief.