Karnataka High Court Quashes Union Ministry's Circular Banning Dog Breeds

Karnataka High Court cancels ban on some dog breeds by Union Ministry. Says rules not followed. Wants pet owners to be responsible.

In a landmark decision, the Karnataka High Court has nullified a circular issued by the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying Department, which enforced a ban on the rearing of certain breeds of dogs. Justice M Nagaprasanna, presiding over a single judge bench, delivered the ruling on Wednesday, highlighting serious procedural flaws in the imposition of the ban.

Justice Nagaprasanna, in his scathing remarks, emphasized that the ban, originating from the High Court of Delhi, lacked the necessary consultation with stakeholders. He stated, "The High Court of Delhi from which the entire impugned action has sprung has recorded the undertaking of Union of India that they would hear all stakeholders. It is an admitted fact that none of the stakeholders are heard." He further pointed out that the composition of the committee responsible for recommending the ban did not comply with the rules stipulated under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

Regarding the ban as a "blanket ban," the court asserted its contradiction with existing rules. However, it clarified that the abolishment of the circular would not hinder the Central government from amending rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act through proper legal channels. The court stated, "In the event of rebirth of what is now obliterated the stakeholders shall be heard."

Moreover, Justice Nagaprasanna stressed the importance of responsible pet ownership, stating, "Government should focus on responsible pet ownership" and highlighted the need for pet owners to be held accountable for their dogs' actions, including providing compensation for any injuries caused.

The court's detailed order is anticipated to be released on Monday, shedding further light on the intricacies of the judgment. This decision comes after the court reserved its order on April 8, following a petition challenging the circular issued by the Union Ministry.

During the proceedings, Advocate Swaroop Anand R, representing the petitioner, argued against the absence of domain experts in the technical committee formed by the Ministry. He emphasized the need for guidelines for the behavioral training of large dogs. On the other hand, Additional Solicitor General Aravind Kamath, appearing for the Ministry, acknowledged the necessity of consulting a wider range of stakeholders, including civil society bodies representing breeder associations.

The circular, which sparked the legal dispute, had banned several breeds of dogs, including Pitbull Terrier, Tosa Inu, American Staffordshire Terrier, and others, citing them as ferocious and dangerous to human life. It also mandated the sterilization of pets belonging to these breeds and prohibited further breeding.