High Court Of Judicature At Bombay

Viniyog Parivar Trust & Others V. Municipal Corporation of Brihan Mumbai & Others

Contempt Petition No. 60 Of 2004 In Writ Petition No. 1596 Of 1998. 15-04-2005

JUDGMENT

A.S. AGUIAR, J.

This contempt petition has been coming up for hearing for the last several dates. The petitioners, parties to the writ petition are NGO's. The respondents, contemnors are the Municipal Commissioner and other officers of the BMC. Several other NGOs have filed similar writ petitions all of which have culminated in the order of this Court dated 5th October 1988. By the said order a monitoring committee has been constituted to oversee the implementation of the various directions- guidelines given by the Court with a view to ensure humane treatment of stray dogs and elimination of the stray dog menace which has been dogging the city of Mumbai for some time. Para 6 of the order speaks of the infrastructure to be provided for implementing the programme. It is in view of the alleged non-compliance of the directions and non-adherence to these guidelines by the respondent, contemnors that the petitioners have taken out this contempt petition in the hope that this Court will in exercise of its power in contempt jurisdiction compel the respondent, contemnors into carrying out the directions contained in the order of this Court dated 5/10/1988.

2.Para 6 of the said order requires the following facilities to be provided for by the Municipal Corporation for implementation of the programme; viz.

a) three or more dog vans for capture of dogs from the areas coming within the local jurisdiction to each of the dog pound in the city i.e. Mahalaxmi, Malad and Deonar.

b) free water and electricity to be provided to each of the three dog pounds.

c) periodical repairs to the dog pounds buildings to be done by the Corporation.

d) one driver and two trained dog catchers to be provided to each dog van and these shall be employees of the Corporation.

e) an ambulance-cum-clinical van to be provided as mobile centre for sterilization/immunization. The driver of the ambulance van will be an employee of the Corporation and the medical personal will be proved by the Bombay SPCA.

f) incinerators shall be installed by the Corporation at each of the dog pounds.

g) the NGOs will be reimbursed the expenses of sterilization/immunization at a rate fixed by the monitoring committee on fortnightly basis based on number of sterilization/immunizations done.

3.From the said order it appears that the burden has been cast on the BMC to make necessary provision for the proper implementation of the programme for tackling the stray dog menace.

4.After hearing learned Advocates for the petitioners on the Petitioners grievances and learned Counsel Mr. Singhvi on behalf of BMC, directions were given from time to time. One grievance of the petitioners was that the dog pounds are in dilapidated condition and no water and electricity provided to the said pounds. Accordingly this Court by order dated 14th January 2005 directed the BMC to remedy the grievance of the petitioners and appointed a commission to report as to the factual position as to the state of the dog pounds in the city. Consequently a report has been filed by the Commissioner who personally visited the dog pounds. From the report it is apparent that much of the grievance of the petitioners in respect of the dog pounds, has been more or less remedied.

5.With respect to the other grievances, it is submitted by the petitioners that Clause (a) of para 6 stipulates providing three or more dog vans for capture of stray dogs within the local territory of each of the dog pounds at Mahalaxmi, Malad and Deonar.

6.From the affidavit in reply filed by one R.N. Katuria, Executive Health Officer of the BMC dated 19th August 2001, it appears that one van has been provided for each of the dog pounds at Mahalaxmi, Malad and Deonar. Although this may not fully comply with the requirements under Clause 6(a) the main purpose for providing the dog vans which is for capture of the stray dogs for the purpose of sterilization, has been, by and large, met. Further Mr. Sanghvi, learned Counsel for BMC has stated that the BMC is ready and willing to provide as many stray dogs as required for sterilization as and when requisitioned by the petitioners (NGOs.). In view of the aforesaid arrangement the requirement of providing one driver and two trained dog catchers for each of the dog vans as stipulated in Clause (d) is not pressed.

7.Today, learned Advocate for the petitioners states that in one of the pounds at Malad there was no water for one week. Earlier water was supplied to the pound by water tanker. Subsequently water supply through taps has been provided. The Commissioner has in his report stated that water and electricity has been provided as per directions of this Court. The concerned officer who is present in Court states that the failure of water supply was a temporary problem since the water mains were under repairs. He states that the problem will be solved within a day or two.

8.Regarding periodical repairs to the dog pounds (Clause (c) of para VI.), from the report of the Commissioner it is apparent that the pounds are in fairly good shape and necessary repairs have been carried out.

9. Clause (e) of Para VI requires that an ambulance cum clinical van be provided as a mobile centre for sterilization/immunization of stray dogs. However, the petitioners have admitted that sterilization of stray dogs is being carried out in the dogs pounds. In view of the statement of learned Counsel of the BMC that BMC will provide the stray dogs for sterilization as per the requisition of the petitioner NGO, the strict compliance of Clause (e) is not pressed.

10.Clause VI(f) provides that incinerators shall be installed by the Corporation at each of the dog pounds. Mr. Singhvi states that BMC has one incinerator at Sewri and as and when the concerned officer is informed dead dogs will be immediately collected by the BMC staff and taken to the incinerator at Sewri or any other incinerator at the costs of the BMC. In view of the proposed arrangement, the requirement of providing one incinerator at each pound is not pressed.

11.The only grievance that survives is that of reimbursement of expenses incurred by the petitioners NGOs for sterilization of the dogs at the pounds. It is pointed out by the petitioners that they are incurring costs of about Rs.900 to 1000 for sterilization of each dog and the cost of sterilization has to be borne by BMC as per Clause 3(b) of this Court's order dated 5/10/1988. Mr. Singhvi states that BMC is ready to reimburse Petitioners provided the cost of each sterilization is fixed by the Monitoring Committee as required by Clause VI(g). It is contended that no such amount as so far been fixed by the Committee. Moreover it is pointed out that the NGOs are being paid by the Central Government.

12.It is clear that the direction given in the order dated 5th October 1998, to a large extent have been complied with by the BMC. BMC has to the extent possible also complied with the directions of this Court given from time to time in the above contempt petition. However, it must be noted that the implementation of the directions will remain incomplete unless a competent authority for monitoring and implementing the guidelines is created. The constitution of such a committee has been provided for in para 4 of the order. The Deputy Commissioner, BMC is to be the ex officio Chairman of the Committee. The said Committee is made responsible for the planning and management of the dog control programme according to the guidelines set out in the Court's order dated 5/10/1998. The Court is informed that the Monitoring Committee has so far not met and hence the implementation of the programme has not been effective. It is pointed out that as per the order Mr. Atul Shah a representative of the petitioner Trust is the convener of the Committee. Mr. Shah is petitioner No.2 to the petition.

13.In order to effectively implement the programme for elimination of stray dogs in the city it is important that the Monitoring Committee meet regularly. Petitioner No.2 is accordingly directed to immediately call a meeting of the Committee which will meet under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner or the Joint Commissioner. The Committee will take necessary steps to redress the grievances of the petitioners as well as other NGOs in charge of other dog pounds in the city, including fixing the sterilization charges for each dog and for reimbursement to the NGOs. The Monitoring Committee to take all necessary steps for effectively implementing the stray dog control programme.

14.With the above order and by consent of the parties the present petition to stand disposed of with no order as to costs.

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