Violation of Child Rights

by Dr. Rozario Menezes M.D., Vasco, Goa

The news item that the Goa State Commission for protection of Child Rights has suo-moto reacted to the news item dated 12th Jan 2016 titled “CANINE FEAR GRIPS PANAJI/SUBURBS” and has taken up the issue with the government, brings a faint light at the end of a long dark tunnel that has gone on for far too long
It is the first time in living memory that a governmental body has taken up the issue of the Violation of the Child Rights Act by the flawed faulty policy of stray dog management currently in force.

For around 15 years I have been pursuing the cause of the safety of people of this country in general and Goa in particular on the issue of protection of the citizens from stray dog attacks and horrible death from rabies.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 is a well balanced law. Parliament in its wisdom, when passing the law, specifically permitted the removal of owner less and unsupervised dogs. The devil in the issue lies in the so called Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules 2001, which prohibit the removal of stray dogs. The rules are unconstitutional for the simple fact that they are in conflict with the parent law. Rules framed under a law cannot be in conflict with the parent law.

As a result of these unconstitutional rules one thousand million Indians are at risk, 17 million are attacked each year by stray dogs and at least 20 thousand die a horrible death due to stray dog attacks. Nowhere in the civilised world is such a horrible situation permitted to fester.

Just last week a 67 year old President’s Medal award winning teacher in Baireily was mauled to death by dogs in broad daylight. Six children have met similar tragic fate in that area in the last one year.

What sort of a warped national priority is India building up, where animal welfare supersedes and over rides child and human rights and safety?

I have pursued this issue on the political front, on the administrative front, and on the legal front, . A PIL filed by me in 2001, has moved through three layers of the justice system, and is currently before the Supreme Court. . At each level the petition for the protection of the rights of the citizens to life safety and health is opposed, among others, by the Animal Welfare Board of India, who recruits the services of the highest paid advocates in the country. Thus, taxpayers money is being deployed to inflict death and suffering on the taxpayer.

For close to 15 years citizens of Goa are being told that everything necessary is being done to control stray dog population. and dog attacks. But facts and figures nail the lie of this claim. As stated by the government Urban Health Officer, the number of stray dog bites recorded, and the money spent by government on the treatment of the victims is going up each year, currently standing at around One Crore Rupees.
This is money that the state should be spending on the nutrition and vaccination of our children

For years, this Violation of Human Rights has been ignored by the National Human Rights Commission. The suo-moto action by the Goa State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights brings a glimmer of hope in an otherwise hopeless and dim scenario.

Citizens must give credit and rally behind the Chairperson and the Goa State Commission for the Protection of Chilld Rights, for taking up this long neglected issue