This article is written by Ronika Tater, from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, School of Law. In this article, she discusses the definition and the essential rules and other provisions with the support of case laws in order to justify the topic.
The Constitution of India under Article 51-A(g) provides all citizens of the country to have compassion for living creatures. The Preamble of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (referred to as PCA Act) also emphasises “to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals and for that purpose to amend the law relating to the prevention of cruelty to Animals”.
The Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001 has been enacted under Section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 to reduce the dog population by sterilization and minimization of stray dogs with the support and assistance of animal welfare organisations, private individuals and local authorities. The rules were established, not in order to harm human lives but at the same time to treat animals with care, compassion and in a humane manner to achieve the objective of gradual reduction and stabilization in the population of stray dogs on a long term basis. Rule 9 and 10 of the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, emphasise controlling and killing of incurably ill, mortally wounded and rabid dogs. Hence, every citizen needs to know about the basic provision to prevent the mass killing of dogs and protect them with due care and precaution.
What is the Animal Welfare Board of India
The Animal Welfare Board of India (also referred to as AWBI) is a statutory advisory body governed under the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying (Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying) on animal welfare laws and to promote animal welfare in the country. It was established under Section 4 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 with the objective to ensure that animal welfare laws in the country are lawfully followed, to provide financial aids to animal welfare organisations and to advise and guide the government of India on animal welfare issues.
Role and functions of the Animal Welfare Board of India
The role of the board is to prevent the increased rate of unnecessary pain or suffering on an animal. The functions of the boards are below-mentioned:
- To constantly analyse and advise the government on any amendments to be undertaken in the PCA Act timely.
- To advise the central government on making essential rules in order to prevent unnecessary pain and suffering to animals and to look into the transportation of animals from one place to another or when they are kept in captivity or confinement with due care and precaution.
- To advise the government or any local authority or other people on improvements in the design of vehicles as to lessen the burden on draught animals.
- To take necessary steps to better the situation of animals by encouraging or provisioning for the construction of sheds, water troughs and providing for veterinary assistance to animals.
- To advise the government or any other local authority in order to design slaughterhouses or the maintenance of slaughterhouses or anything to prevent unnecessary pain and suffering, mentally or physically and to prevent pre-slaughter stages whenever necessary in a humane manner.
- To take all such steps in order to ensure that unwanted animals are destroyed by local authorities whenever necessary without any pain and suffering or in a humane manner.
- To encourage and facilitate the grant of financial assistance.
- To cooperate, coordinate the work of associations or bodies established to prevent unnecessary pain and suffering to animals and to protect animals and birds.
- To give financial and other assistance to Animal Welfare Organizations functioning in any local area or to encourage the formation of animal welfare organizations in any local area under the general supervision and guidance of the Board.
- To advise the Government on matters relating to the medical care and attention for the animals in assistance with the hospitals and to grant medical finance and other assistance by the Board.
- To impart education on how to provide treatment of animals and to encourage the formation of public opinion against the unnecessary pain or suffering to animals and for the promotion of animal welfare by the means of various communication such as lectures, posters, books, outlets, cinematographic films, public speeches, etc.
Essential rules under the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2001
In the case of All India Animal Welfare Association v. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (2007), the High Court of Bombay considering a writ petition issued various directives to the Bombay Municipal Corporation after careful understanding of the various provisions under the Constitution of India, the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2001 to form an action plan for the control of stray animal and to prevent the serious threat of stray dogs and to establish a multi-pronged approach.
Considering the facts that there was no organized manner in which rabid and furious dogs were being controlled and also sterilization of dogs programme. Hence, there was an essential need to provide anti-rabies injections at a reasonable rate in the market. The Court directed the municipal commissioner to establish a monitoring committee under Rule 4 of the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2001 and to be assisted by a member of the AWB to look into the proper implementation of the sterilization programme for stray dogs. The monitoring committee was directed to function as per Rule 5 of the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2001 which states the essential functions of the committee as below-mentioned:
- “To issue instructions for catching, transportation, sheltering, sterilisation, vaccination, treatment and release of sterilized vaccinated or treated dogs.
- Authorize veterinary doctors to decide on a case to case basis the need to put to sleep critically ill or fatal injured or rabid dogs in a painless method by using sodium pentothal.
- Create public awareness, solicit cooperation and funding.
- Provide guidelines to pet dog owners and commercial breeders from time to time.
- Get a survey done on the number of street dogs by an independent agency.
- Take such steps for monitoring the dog bite cases to ascertain the reasons for dog bites in the area where the case took place and to analyse whether it was from a stray or a pet dog.
- Keep a watch on the national and international development in the field of research about street dogs control and management, development of vaccines and cost-effective methods of sterilization, vaccination or any other.
- As per clause (h) of Rule 5 of Animal Birth Control Amendment Rule, 2010 it states that all the activities of the committee should be brought under the notice of the public through announcement and advertisement.”
In the similar case of Animal Welfare Board of India v. People for Elimination of Stray Troubles & others, the Supreme Court has ordered for the implementation of the Animal Birth Control (ABC) program to control the street dog population in all states of India and to ensure that the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2001 is implemented in letter and spirit.
- As per the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2001, street dogs are required to be sterilized, vaccinated and after that released into the same area from where they have been captured. It also requires sick dogs to be treated prior to their sterilization and vaccination and without jeopardizing human lives it states that incurably ill or mortally wounded dogs can be put to death and only without pain and suffering.
- Vaccination is an essential part of this ABC programme in order to substantially reduce the rate of spread of rabies in dogs, and thus to save humans lives. Even the World Health Organization has recognized the use of vaccination as the only effective way to control the increased rate of rabies.
- Even the Constitution of India gives priority of importance to the PCA Act and the Rules 2001 over state and local laws.
- No proper implementation of the rules and required coordination between the centre and the state government, the local authority and other stakeholders within the states.
- Most of the states have not allotted any financial budget for animal birth control of street dogs thereby, violating the objective of the Rules, 2001.
- The grant allotted by the central government is not sufficient to reduce the rate of birth control.
- The shortage of resources has led to increased conflicts and suffering inflicted on the animals.
Considering the facts and circumstance of this case, the Court has strictly emphasized the implementation of the Rules, 2001 and directed it to be monitored by the Central Government and the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India timely. The following are the steps issued by the court in its order, 2008:
- To establish a central coordination committee in order to ensure uninterrupted coordination between the stakeholders of the centre and the centre and state government.
- To establish a state monitoring and implementation committee at the state and union territory level in all states and union territories across the country.
- To establish animal birth control monitoring committees.
- To monitor and evaluate the required targets for the number of dog sterilizations and to ensure timely release of funds and look into the adequate infrastructure for the treatment of dogs in the local authority so as to ensure that the set targets are completed.
In order to keep a balance in the environment, not only the lives of humans are important but also the lives of animals are sine qua non. It is essential to implement rules, programmes, and committees by coordinating with the centre and states to protect and prevent the mass killing of dogs and provide them with the necessary care and precaution by granting financial assistance promptly. Moreover, to keep a check and control on the implementation of these rules is the duty of every citizen in the country.
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