November 3, 2021 4:00:20 am
Upholding the right of apartment owners in residential complexes to keep pets of their choice, a division bench of Kerala High Court on Tuesday said clauses in bylaws of residents’ associations that seek to prevent owners from keeping pet animals in their flats, or accessing the elevators and common facilities in the buildings, are “illegal, unconstitutional and unenforceable in law”.
The bench of Justices A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and P Gopinath were acting upon a petition moved by an apartment owner, who was aggrieved by the stand of the residents’ association of his apartment complex that the bylaws prohibited occupants from keeping pets in their flats. The petitioner was asked to remove the pet from the premises. Three others, living in other apartments, also impleaded in the case, as they also faced similar directive.
After hearing all stakeholders, the government and the Animal Welfare Board of India, the court said such clauses defeat the objectives of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the principles recognised under the Constitution.
However, the court said, “We have to observe that the aforesaid freedoms recognised in animals, and the co-relational right recognised in pet owners, is by no means absolute or unconditional and must necessarily be qualified by safeguards designed to protect the competing rights of others, including residents of neighbouring apartments.”
The court said residents’ associations may stipulate reasonable conditions that must be adhered to by owners while keeping pets with them.
The court also said, “Over the years we have virtually moved from an ecocentric worldview to an anthropocentric one, where humans alone are seen as morally worthy and privileged to enjoy the bounties that nature has to offer.”
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