A division bench of Kerala High Court on Tuesday said that 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” while upholding the right of apartment owners in residential complexes to keep pets of their choice.
The bench of Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice P Gopinath was acting upon a petition moved by an apartment owner. The residents’ association of the petitioner’s apartment complex prohibited occupants from keeping pets in their flats. The petitioner was asked to remove his pet from the premises. The petitioner was joined by three others, living in other apartments as they faced a similar problem.
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.”
After hearing the government and the Animal Welfare Board of India, the court said such clauses defeat the objectives of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the principles recognised under the Constitution.
The court also 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.