01 Apr

New Delhi HC Asks Center for Files About "Dangerous" Dog Breeds

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has recently asked the Center for files regarding the circular initially issued by the high court. The circular was initially released to states earlier in March, instructing them not to issue licenses or permits for the sale or breeding of dog breeds that are considered “dangerous to human life”. 

In its March 22 order, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora said, “Learned counsel for the respondent is directed to produce the original file on the next date of hearing.”

Dr OP Chaudhary, the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying, initially issued the circular on March 12 to the chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories about dog breeds. The circular addressed concerns regarding fatal attacks by “ferocious” animal breeds kept as pets. 

The circular mentioned “breeds (including mixed and cross breeds) like Pitbull Terrier, Tosa Inu, American Staffordshire Terrier, Fila Brasileiro, Dogo Argentino, American Bulldog, Boerboel, Kangal, Central Asian Shepherd Dog (ovcharka), Caucasian Shepherd Dog (ovcharka), South Russian Shepherd Dog (ovcharka), Tornjak, Sarplaninac, Japanese Tosa and Akita, Mastiffs (Boer bulls), Rottweiler, Terriers, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Wolf Dogs, Canario, Akbash dog, Moscow Guard dog, Cane Corso, and every dog of the type commonly known as a Ban Dog (or Bandog)”.

The circular stated, “The Committee has recommended that the aforementioned dog breeds, including crossbreeds, shall be prohibited for import, breeding, selling as pet dogs and other purposes. Therefore, it is requested that the local bodies, the Department of Animal Husbandry shall not issue any licenses or permits for the sale, breeding of dog breeds as mentioned above and keeping of these dog breeds and shall be banned. The Local Bodies may also issue necessary implementation guidelines in this regard. However, the dogs which have already (been) kept as a pet shall be sterilized so that further breeding may not happen".

The recommendations outlined in the circular were penned by an expert committee which was formed under the chairmanship of the Animal Husbandry Commissioner. The committee is also said to include various experts and stakeholder organizations as members. 

The petitioner, Canine Welfare Organization, challenged the circular in its public interest litigation petition, arguing that the circular does not show the reasons based on which certain breeds were banned. “The impugned circular does not disclose any reasoning given by the purported Executive Committee for selectively choosing certain breeds to pass a generic banning order in respect of certain breeds of dogs,” the petition stated. 

It also argues that some of the breeds included in the list have been labelled as “dangerous to human life” without any scientific backing or research into the same. “The rationale or intelligible differentia is missing in the decision-making process. It is submitted that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act or the rules made thereunder do not give any yardstick/set principles to define and label a particular breed of animals as dangerous,” the plea added. 

The plea further submitted that the Centre has “evidently adopted a pick-and-choose mechanism to identify certain breeds without any justifiable basis”, with the matter next listed for April 9. 



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