Karnataka High Court quashes central govt circular banning 23 breeds of ferocious dogs

The Karnataka High Court today quashed a circular issued by the Centre calling for a ban on 23 breeds of ferocious dogs which are dangerous for human life.

A Single-judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna struck down the circular while also stating that the Central government is at liberty to issue a fresh circular after proper consultation and by following proper procedure.

The court held that it is an admitted fact that none of the stakeholders were heard. It noted that the composition of the committee is not in consonance with Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. It further observed that the Centre could not have imposed the ban without a recommendation from a properly constituted committee, adding that it could not have also imposed a blanket ban in the teeth of rules in force. 

The bench remarked that the circular travels beyond what is found in Animal Birth Control Rules. It continued that the circular cannot but be held to be contrary to the law and therefore has to be obliterated.

Nonetheless, it added that the quashing of the circular would not prevent the Central government from issuing a fresh circular on the issue or introducing a legal amendment by following proper procedure and after due consultation with stakeholders.

It mentioned that the stakeholders consulted should include organisations that certify breeds of dogs and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as well. It further stressed that the focus of any such exercise should be responsible pet ownership.

The court added that the responsibility of a pet owner shall not be limited to owning moral responsibility and should be made accountable for entire treatment of victims who may be injured by the dog, including a separate claim for damages.

The judgment was pronounced in a joint petition moved by a professional dog handler and the owner of a Rottweiler, who alleged that the Expert Committee whose recommendation led to the circular, had not consulted any stakeholder before the decision.

The Centre through its circular had asked all states and Union Territories (UTs) to ban 23 breeds of ferocious dogs which are dangerous for human life.

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