Provide Free Medical Treatment To Victims Of Dog Bites At Government Hospitals: Kerala HC Directs State
The Kerala High Court has directed the State to provide free medical treatment to the victims of dog bites at Government hospitals. The Court has also directed that such treatment shall be without prejudice to the right of the victim to separately seek compensation from the State for the injuries, mental and/or physical, sustained by him/her, before the appropriate forum.
"We also direct that, until concrete measures to our satisfaction are put in place by the State administration to avoid situations of human-animal conflict, on every such occasion where a citizen suffers injury, the State shall provide immediate, effective and free medical treatment to the said citizen at the Government hospitals, including those attached to the Government Medical Colleges in the State. Towards that end, the State shall ensure that the hospitals concerned are adequately stocked with medicines and medical equipment required for such treatment. The said treatment shall also be without prejudice to the right of the person concerned to separately seek compensation from the State for the injuries, mental and/or physical, sustained by him/her, before the appropriate forum.", the Bench of Justice A.K.Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Gopinath P directed.
The Court had observed that the State had issued a government order on September 15, 2022 seeking to deal with various aspects relating to the human-animal conflict situation. The Order comprised of initiatives such as anti-rabies vaccination of stray dogs, setting up of Shelters for stray dogs and abandoned dogs, sanitation drive etc.
The Court further observed the report submitted by the Director of Animal Husbandry, State Animal Welfare Board, Government of Kerala. The said report comprised of various steps such as mass anti rabies vaccination program in relation to owned dogs, identification of 37 Animal Birth Control centres across the State for the purposes of the Animal Birth Control – Anti Rabies program, appointment of Veterinary Doctors, animal handlers and dog catchers, awareness programs on responsible dog ownership, compulsory vaccination and licensing, post-bite management and treatment, adoption etc.
In addition to the aforesaid steps the Court directed that "…taking note of the reports that suggest that there may be dogs afflicted with Rabies among the community dogs in the State, we direct the State to forthwith take steps to identify dogs suspected to be infected with Rabies, and seize and remove them to a place of isolation within the limits of the local authority concerned, if need be by resorting to the procedure of tranquilizing them under veterinary supervision."
The Court further directed the State to ensure that incidents of human violence against animals, as also incidents of violence against persons feeding such community dogs are taken cognizance of, promptly investigated into.
"…the State administration, through its police force, shall also ensure that incidents of human violence against animals, including community dogs, as also incidents of violence against persons feeding such community dogs are taken cognizance of, promptly investigated into, and immediate and appropriate action initiated against the perpetrators of such violent acts.", the Court held.
The Court observed that these directions would suffice for now to quell the anxiety of the citizens of the State.
The Court has posted the matter to September 23, 2022.
Cause Title- Bruno (Suo Motu) Public Interest Litigation v. Union of India & Ors.