• Kerala HC : Panchayats duty bound to control stray dogs

    August 17, 2016

    The Kerala High Court has ruled that a Panchayat is to pay compensation to victims who had been affected by the menace of stray dog bites. The court further laid much emphasis on the statutory duty of Panchayat to cull/kill the stray dogs in the greater interests of general public.

     Mr. Antony, a porter by profession was bitten by a stray dog while he was on his way to the bus stop. He had to undertake treatment, and was subjected to anti rabies injection. He filed a suit before the munsiff court claiming compensation towards treatment and various other counts arising out of the said incident. The Munsiff court dismissed the suit.

    Aggrieved by the same, he approached the first appellate court. The appellate court allowed the appeal and decreed the suit granting compensation to the appellant. Aggrieved by the same, the Panchayat approached the high court. The court after examining the relevant provisions of Animal Birth Control (Dogs) rules 2001, and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 opined that the provisions of the former cannot override the latter. The court noted with approval that 1960 act and rules squarely applied to stray dogs whereas the 2001 rules applied only to dogs infected with rabies.

    The court whilst dismissing the appeal by Panchayat rendered observed that: -

    “In this case, there is no evidence to hold that the stray dog which had bitten the plaintiff was a rabid dog. Therefore, the Act of 1960 and the Rules squarely applied. From the above discussion, it is clear that the appellant Panchayat was duty bound to take measures to prevent the danger of stray dogs biting citizens from within its territory. Therefore, I find no reason to interfere with the finding of lower appellate that the appellant is liable to pay compensation to the plaintiff/1st respondent.”


    Although the decision to hold the Panchayat responsible for the compensation in the event of stray dog bites is appreciable, yet the court’s further emphasis on killing them is downright harsh. Instead of adopting such drastic actions, there should be a proper rehabilitation facilities for these dogs and the dogs infected with rabies should be kept in isolation. 

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