The Supreme Court on Friday vacated its earlier order by which it had stayed the Delhi High Court judgement of 2021 that the stray dogs have the right to food and the citizens have the right to feed them The apex court, on March 4, this year, had stayed the operation 0f the high court’s verdict on a plea of NGO ‘Humane Foundation for People and Animals’ that directions may lead to an increase of stray dog menace. A bench comprising Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat, and Sudhanshu Dhulia took note of the submissions that the high court’s verdict was delivered in a civil lawsuit involving two private parties and the NGO has no locus to intervene in the subsequent proceedings.
The bench also took note of the fact that moreover, the parties to the original lawsuit have already settled their dispute, and hence the continuance of the proceedings at the behest of a third party was not needed. “This SLP (special leave petition) arises out of a judgement dated June 24, 2021, passed by the Delhi High Court. In the course of his judgement the judge arrived at certain conclusions, it said in the order, adding that the verdict was later stayed.
The petition was filed seeking permission to file the appeal as the NGO (Human Foundation for People and Animals) was not a party to the suit. It is understood that the parties to the said suit settled the matter. Since the matter dealt with controversies arising between two private parties, the applicant seeking permission to file SLP has no locus (standi). We, therefore dispose of the petition and vacate the interim order…, the bench ordered. Several organisations and individuals, having views and counters on the feeding of stray canines in public places, were urging the court to continue with the matter.
Earlier, the top court, while issuing notices on the appeal of the NGO, had also sought the responses of the Animal Welfare Board of India, the Delhi government, and others. Stray dogs have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed community canines, the Delhi High Court had said while observing that in exercising this right care and caution should be taken to ensure that it does not impinge upon others and causes no harassment or nuisance. The high court, while laying down guidelines regarding the feeding of stray dogs, had said every dog is a territorial being and it has to be fed and tended to at places within its territory that are not frequented by the general public. Any person having compassion for stray dogs can feed them at their private entrance or driveway of their house or any other place not shared with other residents but no one can restrict the other from feeding dogs, until and unless it is causing harm or harassment to them, it had said.
“Community dogs (stray/street dogs) have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed community dogs but in exercising this right, care and caution should be taken to ensure that it does not impinge upon the rights of others or cause any harm, hindrance, harassment and nuisance to other individuals or members of the society,” Justice J R Midha (since retired) had said. The court’s order had come in a case of dispute between two residents of a locality on the issue of feeding stray dogs. One of them had sought direction to restrain the other from feeding street dogs near the entrance of a property. Later, a settlement took place between the two and a designated place was fixed for feeding the canines.