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Feeding of stray dogs in public: Supreme Court stays Bombay High Court verdict, says no to coercive action

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the Bombay High Court order, which had banned public feeding of street dogs and directed the authorities not to take any coercive step against anyone in pursuance of the order passed by the Nagpur Bench of the High Court on October 21 this year.

The Bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice J.K. Maheshwari further stayed the High Court’s observation that persons who feed street dogs must adopt them.

The interim order was passed on a special leave petition filed by a group of dog lovers against the order passed by the Nagpur Division Bench of Justice Sunil Shukre and Justice Anil Pansare.

The Bench further ordered the Nagpur Municipal Corporation to ensure and take steps for the general public to feed the stray dogs at appropriate locations, as demarcated by them. 

It said till the locations were identified, it would be open to the Municipal authorities to deal with any nuisance caused by the street dogs in accordance with the law.

Those who feed the street dogs should not create any public nuisance, ruled the Apex Court, while instructing the Municipal Authorities to take down the names of such persons who create public nuisance, but restrain from taking any action against them. 

The Animal Welfare Board of India and the Nagpur Municipal Corporation were directed by the top court of the country to file their responses in the case.

The Supreme Court sought the opinion of the Counsel representing the Animal Welfare Board of India regarding the practicality of the High Court verdict.

She said that if the stray dogs were not fed, they would become more aggressive. The Counsel further submitted that the Board had already issued guidelines to all states regarding the feeding of stray dogs, which could solve the problem, if duly followed. 

The top court of the country further rejected the claims made by Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, representing the Intervenor and another Counsel against the passing of interim order, saying that it was ‘not acceptable’ to say that stray dogs should be adopted or kept in captivity. 

The Apex Court further said that if there was a problem with respect to their population, then the stray dogs should be relocated as per the law.

(Case title: Swati Sudhirchandra Chatterjee & Ors. v. Vijay Shankarrao Talewar & Ors)

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