19 April, 2019

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Justice For The Dogs Killed In J’Pura University: A Legal Perspective

By Kithmini Avirippola

Kithmini Avirippola

The Issue of animal welfare has been one that has been brought to attention over the last week due to the missing dogs of the University of Jayewardenepura. It is alleged that t he the dogs of the university were killed/dumped by a contracted company titled “Ultrakill”, under the instructions of the Vice Chancellor of the university. Much attention has been received to this incident due to the questionable legality of the actions that were allegedly taken by the two Parties mentioned. And it remains needed to be clarified whether the two parties have gotten rid of the dogs, had acted within authority in getting rid of the dogs.

It further questions whether the removal of dogs from public places is the suitable method to address concerns relating to communal dogs and stressed the need to raise awareness on the efficiency and effectiveness of existing legal frameworks on preventing cruelty to animals, and amendments to laws related to communal dogs.

Registration of Dogs Ordinance

“Registration of Dogs Ordinance” No 25 of 1901 as amended by No 20 of 1915, 03 of 1920, 21 0f 1921, 26 of 1938, 61 of 1939, 12 of 1945, 23 of 1946, 19 of 1947 and 60 of 1961 provides that authority to seize stray dogs vests upon the “proper authority”.

According to Section 2 of the Ordinance on interpretation, “proper authority” has been interpreted as, “….the Mayor and Chairman of the Municipal Council, Urban Council or Town Council of any town or any chairman of Village Councils which operates under the Village Ordinance or any government agent or any person duly authorized by him/her in writing”. Given this definition, the question that needs to be raised is on how the decision making power could have been vested in the Vice Chancellor if he was not authorised by the Mayor and the Chairman of the Municipal Council, Urban Council or Town Council.

As per Section 10(2) of the Ordinance, the final decision on what action should be taken to the dogs whose owners have not either paid the reasonable expenses incurred or has not claimed the dog within the given time period is further vested upon the “proper authority”. This asserts the illegal nature of the act committed by the Vice Chancellor as well as the Private pest control company because on one hand the ordinance is clear as to the procedure to be followed if dogs are seized where the authority to seize and detain the dogs vests upon the “proper authority” and on the other hand as it is stated in the Section 10 (1) of the Ordinance which explain the procedure to be followed,  which states that “Every dog so seized shall be detained in some proper place and be there kept for such period not less than three days from the date of such seizure”. Furthermore it states that, “….as the proper Authority may think expedient where the owner or other person who had charge of the dog is known, the proper authority shall cause notice to be given to either of them of the seizure and detention of the dog”.

The power of the two parties to perform the removal of the dogs could be challenged if they are not brought within the definition of “proper authority”.Hence, if there required authority has not been vested in these two parties through due process, actions of both the Vice Chancellor and the pest control company would not be justifiable under the Registration of Dogs Ordinance of Sri Lanka.

Rabies Ordinance

Secondly, in demonstrating the illegal nature of the acts of both the parties, Rabies Ordinance No 7 of 1893 as amended by No 7 of 1906, 24 of 1921, 6 of 1929, 17 of 1930, 16 of 1934, 61 of 1939, 13 of 1941, 23 of 1946, 29 of 1947, 22 of 1955, 23 of 1956 can be taken into consideration. Similar to the Registration of Dogs Ordinance, Section 04 of the Rabies Ordinance of Sri Lanka clearly states that local authorities have the jurisdiction to seize any stray dog whereas the Section 4(a) states the procedure to be followed in case where dogs have been seized.

According to the Section 4(a), if the seized dogs are not identified as diseased or suspected, the respective local authority shall detain the dogs at a proper place for a period which they think expedient. Moreover, the Section 4(b) clearly states the procedure to be followed where the seized dogs are unclaimed or where the owner is in charge of the dog or in case of non-payment of the reasonable expenses incurred. In this instance, the local authority has the jurisdiction to decide whether to destroy or dispose the dogs in such manner that the local authority deem expedient.

Additionally, similar to the Dog Registration Ordinance, the Rabies Ordinance provides an interpretation to “local authorities” in the Section 2 of the Ordinance which denotes that, the Mayor of the Municipal Council, the Chairman of the Urban Council or Town Council, a government agent within the limits of the administrative district and outside the limits of a Municipality, Urban Council or Town Council, every police officer and every person duly authorized by the Mayor of the Municipal Council, Urban Council or Town Council fall within the definition of local authority.

Proposed Amendments to Laws on Rabies & Dog Registration

The Cabinet of Ministers on 22nd March 2017 approved the amendments proposed  to the above mentioned laws by Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government  Hon. Faizer Mustapha. This includes instructing the Legal Draftsman to amend the above Ordinance to make provisions to increase the fine on owners of stray dogs to 25000/= and the imprisonment for 02 years for violations of the law. The cabinet decision dated 21st of April 2016 has also approved the need to proceed with drafting a new bill amalgamating both the Registration of Dogs Ordinance and the Rabies Ordinance to suit present day needs.

Although there have been allegations on removing dogs from all public places, the Hon. Minister Faizer Mustapha has stated that the government strategy on the current overpopulation issue of dogs in public places would be a humane mechanism where no animal will be killed.  It has been also pointed out that the Animal Welfare Bill which awaits enactment recognizes the abandoning of animals as an offence which is the main cause for the increase of street dog population with a fine of 20,000/= or a jail term of up to one year or both.

In addition, there has been a welfare committee set up to address issues related to the proposed amalgamation of laws. This was initiated under the guidance of Minister Faizer Mustapha, when he met with Animal Welfare Activists to converse about the stray dog overpopulation issue and the need to take long term and short term solutions to overcome the position.

Conclusion

Despite the ongoing process of addressing the dog overpopulation in Sri Lanka in a humane manner, the incident which took place in J’pura University provides a negative portrayal on how to address the issue of communal dogs. This incident also shows the immediate necessity of enacting the Animal Welfare Bill to prevent causing unnecessary harm to animals . A dog cannot be killed by any person other than the “proper authority” or the “local authority” under the existing law on the matter in Sri Lanka.  If a dog is suspected of having rabies or have been attacking human or causing nuisance which has impacted on the public negatively, the proper procedure to be followed would be to inform the respective Authorities who have been granted the power to take actions without taking the law into one’s own hands. 

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Latest comments

  • 11
    11

    60,000 youth died on tire pyres in Sri Lanka!
    Are you talking about justice to Dogs?
    Sure, We treat dogs better than humans in SL!

    • 8
      0

      Srinath Gunaratnam,

      just you the like personalities talk about the issue. But each and everypost being added by you is seen to enrich the hands of the highly abusive politicians in the country.

      Srinath, please enlighten us if your both ends have now operatively changed from one end to other ? I wonder why you guys seem to have difficulties keeping your consistent.

      Even if there are predominantly masses in the country are after highly abusive politicians, there are also highly sensitive individuals such as the writer of the current article, unfornately, the voices of such people are always being suprressed inthis lost island.

      Yes, even my batch mates found dead on tire pyres in late 89/90 in the country. But as we the folks never learnt a lession from the kind of atrocities, Rajaakshe men and their supporters introduced a culture only thugs and uneducated rascals could do whatever they thought was right, until 8th Jan 2015.
      I know you ve been a main voice to stand against the current rulers calling them as YAMA paalanaya, but even if I too am not satisfied with them considering the hopes kept on them, but for few basic improvements I still respect them today.
      They have to be very strict with the enforcement of law and order that is the first thing they can do.. next.. I was happy to hear that former AC – Field Marcel SF was requested yesterday by INCUMBENT prez to take a SECURITY leadership.. in the efforts being made in turning the country to a displined nation….. hope that will definitely work, since SF is an able person no doubt about that. He is human too. All we need is a nation that respect law and order and displine. After that we can think about developement projects.

  • 6
    11

    Kithmini, please think of justice for the thousands of Tamils killed over the years and Sinhalese young simply eliminated without trace.

  • 3
    5

    Just another Nut -The Talk is about GENOCIDE OF DOGS in Sri Lanka,In The Holy Week Of Christians and During Sinhala And Hindu New Year Time.
    This is Where the culprits come over to cover up the scene.If there is nothing to say just keep your fowl mouth shut.Really this is some sort of a shock.Apart from the J’Pura Dog Massacre .We hear street Dogs have also been Killed and thrown to high seas …facebook/embark and facebook/colombodogrescue…This Is A work by that Cruel idiot Faizer Musthapha who is allergic to Dogs..The two legged Dog ..Curse the Muslim extremist Devil ..HE AND HIS FAMILY SHOULD PERISH SUFFERING SAME AS THAT ALL THESE DOGS SUFFERED DURING THEIR DEATH

  • 0
    4

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 0
    4

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 5
    0

    Killing of Dogs – do not incriminate criminal action, you can write and talk.
    Killing Humans (tamil, sinhala or other) – criminal charges can be initiated if evidence is collected. Hence, no one writes or talks as per risk of providing evidence.
    If a government is responsible for killing significant number of humans of one group i.e. Sinhala men and women as JVPers in 1990s; Tamil men, women and children in 2008. Charges can be bought against individuals responsible for Genocide or Crimes against Humanity.

    Unfortunately Life has low value in SriLanka as we have no moral values and not cultured human beings!

    How many decades has the GMOA held the public to ransom committing patient deaths as a group of medical so called professionals. Has the SriLankan society at large cared to stand up to this bunch of thugs?

    How many girls and women are raped and we do not dare to stand for the vulnerable.

    Do you still believe SriLankans are cultured?

  • 8
    6

    Sri Lankans have gone off their minds?This is the 4th or 5th article on the stray dogs of SJ!This is the nett result of providing free education.The students and all other busy bodies are concerned with all things with the exception of studies and academic excellence.

    There is more to come.We may therefore expect 1) Students to assault the VC for this very important decision 2) Students to go on strike asking the VC to get out or 3) See the entry of Pavaadeniya , his buddy Ara Ara Soysa leading their GMOA into striking on behalf of stray dogs.

    Where on earth is the country heading for is not difficult to guess.We are simply incapable of thinking straight and governing ourselves but proudly talk of 2500 years of civilization!!!!

  • 3
    6

    What is this orchestrated tirade against the V-C for? The VC is simply addressing the well being of the university population.

  • 3
    6

    People pick various issues to show off. This lady is doing the same thing. She needs to make her name. VC has the authority to make any decision to provide for the health and safety of the university. And too bad, health and safety of students and staff come before the dogs. Why don’t you find a way to vaccinate the dogs andthen show your true love for them. Otherwise you are just like our so-called joint opposition, opposing everything but without any vision or solution to the problem.

    • 5
      0

      Authority to make any decision ?????? this is the failure his team. wise people make decisions in a wise manner. please he may be a good person , but because of his subordinates he is in such a situation. because no one to guide him.

  • 3
    6

    Why can’t the communities initiate meaningful actions rather than relying or blaming the government.

  • 2
    6

    You see traces of dog’s poo or urine for every meter in Sri Lankan roads and lanes may except a few prominent roads unless washed away by heavy rain. If I am wrong you go and see and count your self. What are the implications of this. Can’t go for a walk because of dog bite and anti rabies injections. You have to get into the car at home and step out in to your workplace otherwise the work places, public transport vehicles and common places are contaminated. What the hell the public Health and medical institutions are thinking and doing.

  • 1
    7

    Why don’t you write about ways of stopping ragging at your university, far more important that the problem of stray dogs? Or is it that the students who rag are worse than stray dogs so that the protection of stray dogs will achieve the proaction of worse than dog student raggers.

    Don’t write such rubbish when so young. You cause dismay and let old people like me lose faith in the young.

  • 0
    7

    Number of persons bitten by dogs is forgotten. There is no sympathytowards them. University is not a place for dogs. If these dogs appaer in Parliamentarea will they be tolerated. Will they be toleraed in hospitals or supermaekets ??

  • 1
    0

    There is no life species that ever existed upon earth that is “innocent”. There is competition, for the basic resource of food, and there is competition to reproduce because there is an in-built desire to perpetuate genes. Each species does it differently. And please remember plants have rights as well. The balance of life shifts according to changes in the environment.

    Man has upset the balance by living ever longer; I’m already old, and my life must be snuffed our soon. However, we have also highly developed minds, and we try to order things in a “humane” way. We don’t want to indulge in the gruesome killing of any other life forms. It is distasteful.

    Some life forms are scavengers, and my even be said to be parasitic. They hang around man. Those appealing little puppies essentially belong to that same category. Cockroaches and rats are essentially the same, but they are unappealing to us.

    Let us human beings GET OURSELVES under control. Let us recognise that homo sapiens are essentially one species. There are too many of us. Ethnic strife and garbage piling up are manifestations of that. Let us bring those under control, by ensuring that only replacement level reproduction takes place.

    What nonsense is being written about dogs. I love my pet dog; that’s a very subjective statement. The overall approach has to be much more objective. Do this as humanely and rationally as possible. But that has to be in keeping with the resources that can be devoted to the task. Avert your eyes, please, if you can’t bear to see how this necessary process it is being attended to.

    Let us order our lives better. In specific terms, let us, on this island, learn to communicate trilingually. Get MMA reformed, because Muslim girls cannot live full normal lives, instead they are forced to start adding to the population without being able to enjoy childhood. Don’t get racist or communal about anything concerning humans.

    As for dogs, be civilised in treating them, but control their numbers, we MUST!

  • 1
    8

    Hi Kitmini,

    Where is justice to people who were bitten by these stray dogs? Will anybody pay compensation to them specially if someone dies from rabies.

    Also not sure whether the legislation quoted are applicable to a SJU a private property (against a public place)

  • 1
    8

    The issue highlighted through the article is not something needs to discussed in an open forum. There are plenty of issues and the topics are there to worry and to be discussed, such as the behaviour of the university students and the impact created and the creating by them over the society. there can be some good at their end but more the worse. going beyond that if you can talk something more openly about the equal treat and the benefit of the human rights would be greater.

  • 6
    1

    Majority of Sri Lankan are Buddhists, in Buddhism it says everyone likes his own life including the animals. If any kind of animals are overpopulated there are ways to control it without killing innocent animals.Many decades ago when it was found the human population in Sri Lanka was too high ,many way were followed to control the increasing population without killing people. If human beings are harmed/killed by another living beings,and if someone think the killers should be killed,then human beings comes to first place to be killed as they are the main kind of living beings harming and killing people.The dogs are living with human beings from the inception of human beings and the dogs were the closest animal to human beings among other animals in the world.So, we must treat them in humanistic way and we must try to safeguard lives of other living beings as much as possible,as living beings who have the highest intelligence among all other living beings. If any kind of living beings are overpopulated we must follow a humanistic method to control them without killing under-intelligent innocent animals.

    • 10
      1

      A sane comment by Karu after several others bordering on abuse against the writer. A number of them have asked the question, why care about the welfare of dogs when you don’t talk about immense human suffering that is much in evidence? I suspect that is a form of escapism by those who don’t do much about human suffering either.

      The writer has chosen a noble vocation in caring about animals. I don’t have all the answers. These animals are capable of love and companionship with us. Who am I to argue that the human kind of love is superior to animal and therefore we humans can do with them as we please? There are many intelligent reductionists who would reduce what is endearing in both human and animal behavior to fundamental needs as sex and food, explained mechanically or chemically. Most of us cannot believe that such phenomena make the essential stuff of life. We believe that we have aspirations that go beyond our personal needs and reach out to a greater, eternal good.

      Love demands sacrifice and inconvenience when we share this planet with people and animals. That sacrifice has its own rewards.

  • 8
    0

    Ha Ha :D The comments section is filled with theoretical geniuses who think we should always follow a priority order to discuss about issues. If you have actually done volunteer work, at least few times, you will understand how practical that approach really is! Typical Sri Lankans!

  • 2
    6

    Are university premises public spaces to be covered by the two ordinances discussed in the article?

  • 9
    0

    Dear Kithmini,
    Thanks a lot, of course we can expect ideas of two groups, dog lovers and dog haters. but behind this there is a failure of management team of the University, Killing/ Dumping is a primitive action, Unfortunately this professor and his management team don’t have any creative idea to solve this type of simple problem in a rational manner, have you recently seen Japura? they are spending a lot to concrete everywhere and trying to modernize. He and his team value such a thing rather than thinking about a value of a life. their theory not only for animals in the university premises, same as for the some officers, feel sorry for him, because is he creative? , is he a scholar? and is he a leader? is he a good in-charge paid by the public?

  • 0
    4

    Whatever the law says we have to have mechanism to eradicate public nuisance and health and life threat to the public.some people try to make havoc on every thing,In sri lanka every where u find stray dogs in the Air pot ,Harbour,hospitals ,schools,police stations.army ,air force,navy camps, check points .mostly where security personal are duty they keep dogs for their security, if dogs are there they can sleep well during night.This practice was at the air port as well and it was threaten to the flights at runaway as well.We have to make tough regulation on keeping dogs. at present U find every where hot dogs making environment miss-arable.

    • 5
      0

      You start your comment saying “Whatever the law says”!

      I rest my case!

  • 0
    5

    Don’t blame vice Chancellor ,He is correct and has taken proper action as much as possible.

    • 6
      0

      How do you say that he is “correct” and taken “proper” action? According to who? According to what?

      Just because his actions are in accordance with your belief system and likes/dislikes, it doesn’t mean that his actions are “correct” and “proper”

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