Bramha Suncity : Supreme Court stays order of Bombay High Court to release 60 stray dogs in cooperative housing society in Pune

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The stray dog bites incidents are alarmingly increasing across the country. Several dog bites victims have lost their lives. The People are concerned for their safety across the nation due to this issue. The Stray dog population is alarmingly increasing in the country. The Bombay High Court On 24th of April 2023 while hearing an interim application (INTERIM APPLICATION (Civil) Stamp 10035/2023) in a writ petition (WP -C- 2572/2023) had directed the Pune Municipal Corporation that around 60 street dogs be released in the premises of Brahma Sun City Cooperative Housing Society, situated at Wadgaonsheri, Pune, Maharashtra. 

The Bombay High Court order directed the Pune Municipal Corporation to re-introduce these stray dogs and directed the police to provide the necessary assistance for the said purpose. Brahma Suncity cooperative housing Society which was registered in 2011 and residents staying there since around 2005 had seen a phenomenal increase in the count of stray dogs residing in the private premises of the gated housing society. 

Alarmingly the number of stray dogs in the society had reached almost 60. The controversy started when a seven-year-old child was attacked and seriously wounded by a pack of street dogs within the society premises. The child was admitted for five days in a government hospital due to category three dog bites. This led the residents of the society becoming extremely worried about the safety of everybody including children, senior citizens, disabled. 

Residents were not able to use various areas and amenities within the society such as the swimming pool, bus stop, society school, parking areas and the play area due to the presence of aggressive, sick, and large numbers of stray dogs. The residents of the society, for years, had been complaining about their grievances regarding the street dogs to various authorities, including the Police and the Municipal Corporation. However, there was no action taken so far. 

On the occasion of the dog bite incident on 7th of February, the corporation swung into action and took away the stray dogs residing in the society and kept them in safe shelters. Aggrieved by such a relocation of the stray dogs an activist filed a Writ Petition in the Bombay High Court seeking to reintroduce the street dogs back in the society premises.

The residents of the society are peace loving and caring towards animals including stray dogs. However, they are also extremely worried for their own safety. They are not against feeding or animal welfare. While the Writ Petition is still pending at the Bombay High Court, the new animal birth control rules, 2023 were notified 10th of March 2023. Animal Birth Control Rules 2023 The ABC, 2023 has cast responsibility on a Resident Welfare Associations and Apartment Owners Association to make necessary arrangement for feeding of community animals residing in the premises or that area involving the person residing in that area or premises as the case may be, who feeds those animals or intends to feed those animals and provides care to street animals as a compassionate. 

The ABC Rules also mandates that Resident Welfare Associations and Apartment Owners Association fix designated feeding spots for stray dogs within the private premises of the gated housing community. The new rules also define stray dogs as community animals and such captured stray dogs must be released back in the same locality, even if it means releasing them back within the private premises of a resident welfare Association or a gated community. 

The Bombay High Court in one of the earlier judgments in Sharmila Sankar versus Seawoods Estate Ltd. had held that the new ABC 2023 rules shall also apply to a private company. Relying on the above judgement, the Honourable Bombay High Court directed the Pune Municipal corporation to re-introduce almost 60 stray dogs back within the gated premises of Brahma Suncity, Cooperative housing Society. Aggrieved by the order of the Bombay High Court, the Housing Society moved the Supreme Court of India through Advocate Satya Muley. 

Speaking on behalf of the Brahma Suncity cooperative housing Society, Satya Muley said “There are major questions of law and contradictions involved in the controversy. The provisions of ABC 2023, apparently appear to be encroaching upon the autonomy and powers vested in a Cooperative Housing Society, an Apartment Condominium, or a private company, all who may be in the form of a gated residential complex. It is not that the people residing in such gated communities are against the welfare of stray animals. However, people residing in such gated communities have a right to decide affairs related with their own safety, security, peace, property, hygiene, freedom of movement, various liberties, right to property, right to life, right to secure environment, etc, which are guaranteed under various provisions of the Constitution of India. These gated complexes are private entities formed under various statutes such as cooperative law, laws governing Apartment condominiums, Company law, and are empowered with autonomy to decide their own affairs under various guidelines. The ABC 2023, if implemented in its current form, shall mean that the gated communities shall have to provide feeding spots for community animals such as cats, dogs, pigs, cows, etc. who are not classified as wild animals.” 

Satya Muley also said “One of the key questions that is to be decided in the Supreme Court is – whether a Private Statutory Entity like a Co-operative Housing Society can be compelled to provide shelter to Stray animals or stray dogs, thereby interfering into the management and the affairs of the said Housing Society”. 

The Special Leave Petition filed by Brahma Suncity Cooperative Housing society was heard at the Honourable Supreme Court on 15.05.2023. The bench of Hon’ble Justice J. K. Maheswari and Justice M. M. Sundaresh was pleased to issue notice to all the respondents and granted a stay on the operation of the Bombay High Court order dated 24.04.2023. Satya Muley, Vaibhav Kulkarni, Siddharth Chapalgaonkar, Adit Shah, Raveena Lobo (Advocates appeared in the matter on behalf of the Brahma Suncity Co-operative Housing Society)