The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed an observation by the Bombay High Court that those who feed stray dogs must adopt them or place them in shelter homes, Live Law reported.

A bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and JK Maheshwari passed the order in response to a special leave petition filed by a group of activists against the High Court’s order. The Supreme Court also directed that no coercive steps should be taken on the basis of the High Court order.

On October 20, the Nagpur bench of the High Court had said that civic authorities face problems in controlling stray dogs due to the irresponsible behaviour of animal lovers, according to The Times of India.

“If these so called friends of stray dogs are really interested in protection and welfare of the stray dogs, they must adopt the stray dogs, take home the stray dogs or at least put them up in some good dog shelter homes and bear all the expenses for their registration with municipal authorities and towards their maintenance, health and vaccination,” the court had said.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed this observation.

The court asked the counsel for the Nagpur Municipal Corporation whether the High Court order was practical. “You cannot insist that the people who feed street dogs should adopt them,” Justice Khanna orally observed.

The court also asked the Animal Welfare Board of India to state its position on the matter. The board said that stray dogs would become more aggressive if they are not fed, according to Live Law.

The bench said that it would be open for the civic body to note down the names and other details of persons feeding stray dogs, but that no action should be taken against them. It also directed the municipal corporation to take steps to allow citizens to feed dogs at certain demarcated locations.

“We also require the general public to ensure that no public nuisance is caused by feeding of stray dogs,” the court said.