The Supreme Court on Thursday came down heavily on a number of vigilante groups in Kerala that have been carrying out mass culling of stray dogs for the past couple of months.
Maintaining that the authority to cull dangerous dogs lies only with the government, the apex court ordered the vigilante groups to stop doing so.
Emphasizing that a state government can cull dangerous dogs as per guidelines laid down by the SC, the court also asked the Kerala government to take action against such groups that were involved in killing of stray dogs.
The apex court also questioned the necessity of such vigilante groups and ordered Janaseva Sishubhavan chief Jose Maveli to appear before it on the next date of hearing on March 1, 2017 and explain the mass culling drives led by him. Justice Sirijagan Commission should carry out an inquiry into these groups, the court added.
"Let not an impression go out that human life is of lesser value than that of dogs. Human life is divine," the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Amitava Roy observed while restraining vigilante groups in Kerala from propagating and imparting training for killing of dogs, IANS reported.
Public sentiment against stray dogs in the state was aroused after an elderly woman was mauled to death by a group of strays in Thiruvananthapuram a few months ago. Stray dog attacks were subsequently reported from across the state, with instances where the strays attacked residents in their houses.
Following this, various mass stray dog culling drives were undertaken by private groups as well as a number of panchayats in the state. A 90-year-old man's death following a stray dog attack in Varkala in October further fueled the anger against the strays.
Minister for Local Self Government KT Jaleel had said in the legislative assembly that the government needs at least three years to eradicate the 3.5 lakh stray dogs in the state.