The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday stayed the implementation of a circular issued by the Centre banning the import, breeding and sale of 23 “ferocious” dog breeds, Bar and Bench reported.

Justice M Nagaprasanna said that the stay would only be applicable in Karnataka. The joint petition was moved by Mardona Jones and King Solomon David, both residents of Bengaluru, The Hindu reported.

Last week, the Centre had asked states to ban the import, breeding and sale of dog breeds such as pitbulls, rottweilers and mastiffs in the wake of a number of fatal attacks on humans by dogs.

The Union fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying ministry said that it had received representations from citizen’s forums and animal rights groups requesting the ban. It also said that the Delhi High Court had told the Centre to respond to a writ petition seeking a ban on certain canine breeds.

After the Delhi High Court’s directive, the ministry had set up a committee led by the animal husbandry commissioner and comprising experts from several stakeholder groups, which recommended banning several dog breeds in the country.

On Tuesday, the petitioners’ counsel argued before the Karnataka High Court that the Union government’s circular was arbitrary and discriminatory.

The petitioners alleged that the expert committee that recommended the ban had not consulted any stakeholders before the decision.

It also said that no particular dog breed could be identified as “aggressive”, adding that any incident of such attacks could be attributed to “untrained and unsocialised” dogs.

“There are several dog breeds which are not covered under the impugned circular which have also caused dogs attacks, and for the said reason the rationale behind the classification in the impugned circular is highly arbitrary and is liable to be set aside,” the petitioners said.

The petition also said that experts such as the Kennel Club of India had not been consulted before the circular was issued by the government. The Kennel Club of India is an organisation that maintains a registry of purebred dogs in the country.

In response, the Karnataka High Court cited the Delhi High Court’s direction that said that all stakeholders had to be consulted before considering the ban.

“The circular though refers to members of several stakeholder organisation being a part of the expert committee, there are several who would not be heard,” Nagaprasanna said.

The court also observed that the Centre’s direction to sterilise “ferocious and dangerous” dogs to stop further breeding would have a “devastating effect”.

“The committee appears to have identified the aforesaid breed of dogs as ferocious and dangerous to human life,” Nagaprasanna said. “Therefore, the effect of the circular is pan India and has a devastating effect on the aforesaid breed of dogs.”

While staying the implementation of the circular in the state of Karnataka, the court directed the deputy solicitor general of India to produce the documents that indicated the reasoning behind the ban.

It listed the matter for hearing on April 5.

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