Municipal authorities cannot be expected to completely wipe out stray animals including monkeys and dogs from the roads of the national capital, the Delhi High Court has said.
It said the duty of the municipal authorities is to take "concerted, sincere and optimum steps" to ensure that stray animals are rehabilitated and do not become a menace for the residents or traffic plying on the road.
Justice C Hari Shankar made the observations while disposing of a contempt petition against the authorities for failing to obey directions passed by the court in 2019 to ensure the problem is properly dealt with.
"It cannot be expected that the municipal authorities can completely wipe out, from the roads and municipal areas of Delhi, all stray animals, whether cattle, monkeys, dogs or other animals," the high court said in its February 7 order.
In the September 2019 order, a division bench of the high court had said, "We expect, from the respondents, that a committee or other type of body will be constituted immediately, in regards to stray cattle, stray dogs, monkeys etc., so that they may evolve some scheme or policy on how to control these stray cattle, street dogs and monkeys and the action will be initiated immediately."
It had said it was the duty of the respondents to provide anti-rabies vaccination to government hospitals or dispensaries, which shall be provided at the earliest.
In the plea seeking contempt action against the authorities, petitioner Salek Chand Jain alleged there has been no sufficient compliance with the 2019 directions.
The court perused the status reports filed by the authorities in which it was stated that presently, the estimated cattle population in Delhi after the COVID-19 pandemic is around 83,671 and the four Gaushalas present in the city have sufficient space to accommodate abandoned cattle.
The court said the assertions contained in the status reports suffice to constitute substantial compliance with the directions of 2019 order which has to be meaningfully understood.
"In any event, in view of the status reports filed by the respondents, it cannot be said that there is contumacious or wilful disobedience on their part in complying with the directions contained in the order dated September 25, 2019. There is a distinction between contempt and enforcement.
"In the event that the petitioner is still unhappy with the measures that have been taken, it would be open to him to agitate the said grievance in appropriate proceedings," the court said.