New Delhi: The Supreme Court today allowed the elimination of only "irretrievably ill or mortally wounded" stray dogs in a "humane manner" and asked all states and union territories to go by the central rules on the issue.
Maintaining that a "balance between compassion for animals and human lives" has to be struck, a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh said the "life of a dog is not more important than the life of a human being. ... Life is the glorious gift of nature and the compassion for animals and human lives should harmoniously co-exist."
The bench made it clear that "removal/destruction" of a particular kind of stray bovines has to be done under the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001 framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act.
For the time being, it was not dealing with the relevant provisions of municipal laws of Maharashtra and Kerala but rather ordering the authorities to act as per the 2001 Rules framed under the central legislation the PCA Act.
When pointed out by counsel that some High Courts may come up with a contrary orders by taking note of such issues under the respective municipal laws, the apex court made it clear that it was asking all states and union territories to follow the central rules which will override.
The court has asked Chief Secretaries of states and UTs to provide data on cases of dog bites and "removal/ destruction" of stray dogs as prescribed under the Rules.
It has also asked the authorities to apprise it of the steps taken for welfare of stray dogs. The rules require creation of shelter homes and isolation wards for certain kinds of stray dogs.
The bench is hearing a bunch of pleas including Animal Welfare Board of India's petition to decide on the issue of primacy of laws framed by Centre and state governments in this regard.
One of the pleas has been filed against Kerala High Court decision approving culling of stray dogs by the Thiruvananthapuram civic body on a PIL by advocate Anupam Tripathi.
The apex court has refused to stay the HC decision saying that the killing of dangerous dogs and those inflicted with rabies should be guided by rules.