The Supreme Court on Thursday wondered why Kerala has a “peculiar dog bite menace”. The apex court bench voiced its concern after the court-appointed committee said the “excessive” stray canine population would continue to pose “very serious threats” to public safety unless brought down to a “manageable level”.
"I have been to several states," Justice Dipak Misra said. "In Orissa the dog bite incidents are rare. In Assam it is rare. Why is this dog bite problem so concentrated in Kerala?" Misra asked why Kerala has such a "peculiar dog bite menace". The court suggested that the government should consider compensating the victims in such cases if the problem is that serious in the state, PTI reported.
The state government informed the court that it would not be feasible or advisable to introduce compensation for all dog bite victims. Appearing for Kerala, senior advocate V Giri said there would be a huge rush for compensation if such a system is implemented. The petitioner, however, argued that the dog menace in Kerala is matter of grave concern. Quoting a recent report in Delhi, the petitioner said at least one person gets bitten by a dog in every six minutes in the country. His lawyer said the situation was grim in Kerala where dog attacks on women and children were rampant.
The court listed the matter for hearing next on November 17. The bench asked the Amicus Curiae, or the advisor to the court, to deliberate on the dog bite menace in the state, responsibilities of the local administration and compensation for victims. It had also asked state government to respond to the module for "Implementation Framework for Street Dog Population Management, Rabies Eradication and Reducing Man-dog Conflict". However, Advocate Anjali Sharma, representing Animal Welfare Board of India, said several states have not yet replied.
The court-appointed panel said, "As such, for the present problem, implementation of Animal Birth Control (ABC) procedures will not be an immediate solution and an immediate solution is called for in order to contain this menace, if people are to be protected from the street dogs immediately." It said the government should take urgent steps to address the problem. In an earlier report, the panel had said that more than one lakh people were bitten by dogs in Kerala in 2015-2016.
On October 4, the court had asked the state for a response on photos of a public display of stray dogs being beaten to death by local politicians and residents. It had ordered there be no such public demonstrations again. The court had observed that the animals should be treated with compassion, but noted that measures should be taken to ensure that the strays did not become a problem for the local people. However, it had earlier rejected petitions seeking an interim stay on culling of stray dogs, which is done in several states.