Kerala High Court Has Ruled That Priority Should Be Given To Human Lives Over Stray Dogs

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Case Title: TM Irshad vs State of Kerala

A single bench of Justice PV Kunhikrishnan of Kerala High Court has recently expressed the view that prioritizing human lives over those of stray dogs is imperative.

The bench said that the presence of stray dogs poses a significant threat to the daily lives of citizens, particularly impacting vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly.

The bench opined that “School children are afraid to go alone to their school because of the apprehension that they will be attacked by stray dogs. It is a habit for several citizens to go for a morning walk. Morning walk is also not possible today in certain areas because of the apprehension of attacks from stray dogs. If any action is taken against the stray dogs, the dog lovers will come and fight for them. But I am of the considered opinion that human beings should be given more preference than stray dogs,

The bench noted that the rising occurrences of conflicts between humans and dogs within the State, resulting in law and order challenges. However, addressing this issue is often misconstrued as lacking compassion.

Nonetheless, the Court emphasized the importance of preventing attacks on stray dogs and suggested that local self-government authorities should issue licenses in compliance with the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023 (ABC Rules) to individuals who are willing to rescue these animals.

“While giving licence, the local authorities can impose conditions in tune with the provisions in ABC Rules 2023. This should be in addition to the duties of Local Self Government Institutions to protect the stray dogs as per ABC Rules. I am of the considered opinion that the dog lovers need not write and speak for the dogs in print and visual media, but they should come forward to protect these dogs if there is bonafides in their words along with the Local Self Government Institutions”.

The court has called upon both State and Central governments to establish guidelines or regulations for issuing licenses to individuals interested in safeguarding stray dogs.

This directive stems from a judgment resulting from two petitions filed by residents of Muzhthadam ward in Kannur.

The petitioners expressed significant inconvenience caused by a fellow resident, Rajeev Krishnan, who harbored injured stray dogs in his residence. They reported a rise in the stray dog population, leading to unhygienic and unsafe conditions in the vicinity of Krishnan’s house.

Despite a district collectorate meeting that proposed a resolution, Krishnan allegedly declined to implement the suggestions, prompting the residents to seek High Court intervention to enforce the plan and address the dog-related issues. Krishnan defended his stance by asserting that the dogs under his care are vaccinated and sterilized, posing no threat to humans. He assured the Court that the dogs, currently numbering nine, would not inconvenience the neighbors.

The Court advised Krishnan to obtain a license from the Corporation of Kannur to maintain the dogs, instructing the Corporation to scrutinize his application thoroughly and issue a license with stringent conditions in compliance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 and ABC Rules of 2023.

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