The Kerala High Court passed an order on 2nd November 2021 stating that by-laws of residents’ associations preventing apartment owners and tenants from keeping pets of their choice at home or accessing elevators and other common facilities are “illegal” and “unenforceable in law”. The People for Animals (PFA) Thiruvananthapuram had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging such by-laws, stating that they were “illegal, arbitrary and unfair”.
On hearing the plea, a bench of Justices AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Gopinath P stated that such clause “defeat the objectives of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act and the principles recognised under our Constitution, and have necessarily to be struck down as illegal and unconstitutional”. The Court also went on to say that ‘God’s Own Country’ cannot deny privileges to its animal inhabitants and that the time has come to nudge citizens into understanding that other living beings too “have rights in our shared ecosystem”.
The High Court also stated that the State and its institutions should “take appropriate measures to inculcate a spirit of accommodation towards animals amongst our people, preferably by introducing animal awareness programmes at the school level in the state”. The Court’s registry has been directed to send a copy of the judgement to the Chief Secretary of the State to ensure that all complaints regarding the violation of citizen’s rights in this context receive appropriate attention and resolution.
The Court also went on to say that residents’ associations can stipulate reasonable conditions that owners and tenants should adhere to while keeping pets. It said that residents’ associations can refer to the guidelines issued in February 2015 by the Animal Welfare Board of India to arrive at such reasonable conditions.