The Sindh High Court on Wednesday took exception to the delay in the framing of by-laws for dealing with the matter of stray dogs under the Sindh Local Government Act 2013, directing the LG...
The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday took exception to the delay in the framing of by-laws for dealing with the matter of stray dogs under the Sindh Local Government Act 2013, directing the LG secretary to frame the by-laws in the larger public interest within 45 days.
Hearing a petition calling for the control of the population of stray dogs and demanding the availability of free anti-rabies vaccine, an SHC division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar asked the LG official why the by-laws to deal with stray dogs had not been framed yet.
A section officer of the LG department said that the master plan for the rabies control programme had already been submitted, adding that the plan was connected with the by-laws under the LG law, and so requested time to file comments in this regard.
The project director of the government’s stray dogs control programme submitted the master plan for the rabies control programme in court. He also submitted the timeline for achieving the targets.
The bench said that certain efforts had been made by the LG department, the district municipal corporations and the cantonment boards to implement the orders of the court to control stray dogs in their respective jurisdictions to protect the public.
The bench also said that the implementation of the master plan and the framing of the by-laws were two different things, explaining that the framing of the by-laws was a statutory responsibility that could not be delayed for an indefinite period of time.
The court said that the law was in field since 2013, adding that the provision of by-laws was present even in the earlier version. The bench gave the LG secretary 45 days to frame the by-laws in the larger public interest, and adjourned the case until December 16.
The LG secretary had earlier submitted a progress report stating that in line with the court’s directives, a complaint centre had been functioning and numerous grievances had been received against stray dogs, while action had also been taken on those complaints.
He said that a mass vaccination programme for stray dogs had been started with the help of private hospitals and non-governmental organisations, but it had been stopped due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and would be resumed soon.
He also said that a task force had been performing its duties to control the stray dog population. He added that they felt the need to revise the PC-I for the rabies programme and check the stray dog population at a cost of Rs1.074 billion for its better implementation.
Advocate M Tariq Mansoor had submitted in his petition that Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho had said before the Sindh Assembly that over 92,000 dog-bite cases had been reported across the province in a year by June 30, 2019.
He said that according to the minister, there was also a shortage of rabies vaccine due to the ongoing tension with India and the closure of a Chinese company’s operations.
He added that dog-bite incidents had been worsening day by day due to the failure of the provincial and local administrations to deal with the situation, pointing out that neither were stray dogs being caught nor was the vaccine available at hospitals.