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Cannot ban pets in societies: Animal Welfare Board of India

Comments Off on Cannot ban pets in societies: Animal Welfare Board of India   |   March 13, 2014    11:43am   |Contributed by manoja

MUMBAI: Animal Welfare Board of India turns to legal team on correct legal position regarding various aspects of pet ownership.

Housing societies have no right to form laws regarding pets; they cannot even ask pet-owners to keep their animals on a leash or impose special charges on them, a circular from the Animal Welfare Board of India says.

The sharp increase in the number of complaints regarding ill-treatment of street and pet dogs prompted the Board to approach its legal team on the correct position in law regarding various aspects of pet ownership and street dog rights. This resulted in the circular, said officials from ABWI.

“We have been hearing and reading a lot about housing societies framing laws for pet dogs and pet owners placing many conditions on the owners if they want to keep pets in their homes. States like Mumbai, Delhi are the worst in this respect,” said Dr Chinni Krishna , vice-chairman, AWBI.

The Board has been receiving a lot of queries on whether housing societies have any authority to frame laws regarding pet animals. “But the fact is, they don’t have any,” said Krishnan.

In the past, courts have ruled in favour of pet owners. A housing society in Navi Mumbai was fined for having restrained a family from bringing their pet into the society lift. The Thane consumer court in 2008 imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on the society, holding that its decision to to prevent pets from using the lift without any valid reason amounted to “deficiency in service”. A family residing in a housing society is a “consumer” under the law.

Krishnan added that many residential complexes and cooperative societies have banned pets on their premises, and this is against the law. Even if the majority of residents want such a ban, it is not legal, he said. “You cannot ban the keeping of pet dogs by residents nor disallow the pet from using the society lift or parks. One cannot cite the barking of a dog as a valid and compelling reason for any sought of ban,” he said.

“In fact, in trying to ban pets you interfere with a fundamental freedom guaranteed to the citizens of India, i.e. the freedom to choose the life they wish to live. Also, many societies prohibit pets from using lifts or charge them extra for the same which is against the law,” Krishnan said.

Not everybody agrees with the law, however. “We have been facing a huge problem in our society as a few pets in our building mess up the lift. We have no choice but to keep requesting our tenants to make sure that they don’t create a mess in the lift, but our request is hardly heard. Unfortunately, as a society we have no powers to regulate the same. We hope the government frames a flexible law where genuine problems are heard,” said Jayanti Shete, a resident from Mulund.

Shakuntla Majumdar, president of Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ( SPCA), Thane unit, said, “Laws should be framed in such a way that the man-animal relationship is respected.”

The Animal Welfare Board of India, the first of its kind to be established by any Government in the world, was set up in 1962, in accordance with Section 4 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 (No.59 of 1960).

Its functions include keeping the Act under constant study and to advise the government on the amendments to be undertaken in the law from time to time, and to advise the Government on any matter connected with animal welfare or the prevention of infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Cannot-ban-pets-in-societies-Animal-Welfare-Board-of-India/articleshow/31835582.cms

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