Cats and dogs may be treated as a child or family member by their owners, but they are not humans, and offences related to `endangering life of a person’ can not be invoked when animals are victims, the Bombay High Court has said.
A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and Prithviraj Chavan slammed Mumbai Police for registering an FIR mindlessly against a Swiggy food delivery executive accused of hitting a dog while riding motorbike. Quashing the FIR, it also ordered the government to pay him costs.
While the judgement was delivered on December 20, the detailed order became available this week.
“No doubt, a dog/cat is treated as a child or family member by their owners, but basic biology tells us that they are not human beings. Sections 279 and 337 of the Indian Penal Code pertain to acts endangering human life, or likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person,” the bench said.
Section 279 deals with rash driving, while 337 deals with `causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others.’ “Thus, legally speaking the said sections will have no application to the facts in hand, this essential ingredient necessary to constitute the offences, being amiss. The said sections do not recognize and make an offence any injury caused otherwise than to human being,” the court added.
An FIR had been registered against Manas Godbole, the petitioner, after his motorbike allegedly hit a stray dog in Marine Drive area during lockdown in 2020. The petitioner, who was delivering a food order, himself was injured as the motorbike skidded.
The FIR was registered on the complaint of a woman who was feeding stray dogs.
“The application of these sections by the Marine Drive police clearly shows non-application of mind. How sections 279, 337, 429 of the Indian Penal Code could have been applied to the case in hand, even from a bare perusal of these sections, defies logic,” it said.
“Considering that the police had lodged the said prosecution despite no offence having been disclosed, we deem it appropriate to direct the state government to pay costs of Rs 20,000 to the petitioner,” the court said.
The amount shall be recovered from the salary of the police officers responsible for the lodging of the FIR and subsequent filing of the charge sheet, the court said.