On Friday, the Supreme Court (SC) stayed a Bombay High Court order allowing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to kill “nuisance-creating” stray dogs.
It was a rare scene in the SC as legal luminaries gathered to defend dogs’ right to life.
Fali Nariman, who recently refused to help the Delhi High Court in the judges’ assets declaration case, appeared for the animal Welfare Board. Another legal luminary, TR Andhyarujina, represented Welfare of Stray Dogs, while Raj Panjwani appeared for Viniyog Parivar Trust.
“A dog cannot be exterminated because it barks,” Nariman told the court. “It is inhuman to kill street dogs. They too have right to life.”
There are more than 6 lakh strays in Mumbai and the authorities plan to eliminate 5 lakh of them, Andhyarujina told the court.
To the bench’s apprehension that a stray can bite people, Nariman said such dogs could be sterilised.
Several animal welfare bodies had challenged the December 19, 2008, judgment of the high court that allowed killing of strays that chase vehicles and cause accidents.
The petitioners pushed for a monitoring committee to decide strays’ fate. The committee would be headed by the municipal commissioner and would have representatives from the Public Health Department, Animal Welfare Board, Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, animal welfare organisations as well as a veterinary doctor.