While pets are the best companions, keeping a pet at home has several other benefits as well. A pet at home can help keep stress at bay, reduce loneliness and provide companionship. Further, they provide multiple health benefits as well by increasing exercise and socialization opportunities through regular walking and playing.
However, if you stay in an apartment in a society, you must have come across many regulations in the form of “bylaws” of the society.
Some say that non-vegetarian food is not allowed, someplace restrictions on the entry of visitors.
In many societies even keeping pets is restricted.
But do you know that this is unlawful?
The purpose of bylaws is to cover the aspects of the functioning of a society, such as rules with respect to holding of meetings, conducting elections for Secretary, allotting parking spaces, etc. Such rules become unlawful in case they infringe upon the fundamental rights of the resident. Similarly, such restrictions on keeping pets violate Section 11 (3) of Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960 as also against Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution which provides for protection and improvement of the natural environment.
The Animal Welfare Board of India issued a circular in 2014 which provides clarity on the aspect of law concerning pet dogs. The circular states that any Resident Welfare Association (RWA) cannot impose a ban on keeping pets, even after a unanimous decision of all members such a rule would not be deemed valid. Also, a rule specifying that pets are not allowed in lifts or parks cannot be imposed either as the courts regard pets as part of a family. Similarly, no society can intimidate a pet owner to abandon their pet under any circumstances.
That’s what the law says, but there would be instances where you would have to fight for such rights. If your society has such bylaws, what can you do?
- You can approach the Registrar of Societies (RoS) to take appropriate action against the RWA if such a rule in imposed.
- An action can also be initiated in the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum under Section 2(1)(g) of the Consumers Protection Act.
- The pet owners can also file a complaint under Section 428,429 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) in the nearest police station if any harm is caused to the pet.
However, while the residents have the right to keep a pet irrespective of what the bylaws say about it, they have certain responsibilities to ensure that other residents do not face inconvenience. The residents could be requested to fix a dedicated time for the allowance of pets in gardens and remember to clean after their pets to ensure cleanliness in the society. It is the
responsibility of the owner to ensure that their pet does not become a nuisance to other residents of the society.