The court was told that the policy does not properly define a “pet dog” and “commercial dog” and hence be declared as “void and unconstitutional”
The daughter of a former chief minister of Punjab has dragged the Centre to court with the bone of contention being a pet dog.
Bubli Brar, the daughter of Harcharan Singh Brar, who was the Punjab chief minister from August 1995 to November 1996, moved the Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday for being denied the permission by the central government to import a pet dog.
Bubli, a resident of Chandigarh’s Sector 4, told the court that she secured a licence, valid for 18 months, to import dogs in December 2015. In April 2016, however, the Centre notified a policy on importing dogs. When she approached the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) for permission to import the dog, a Bernese Mountain pup, she was told that government had banned the import of dogs for commercial use. She argued that she wanted to import a pet dog not one for commercial purposes.
Bubli Brar (HT File Photo)
A dog lover, she said three of her four dogs are imported from Belgium. She wants to import another pup “to keep pure breed dogs” and that’s why she procured a licence.
Brar told the court that she is neither a commercial dog breeder nor does she own any commercial dog-breeding business. She said while she was denied permission, another individual, Bhaskar Ram, was issued a special import licence for two dogs in June 2016 after the notification.
She argued that the government could have imposed a quantitative restriction on an import permit and the policy notified is not in the interest of the nation and society since there is a ban on importing dogs for commercial use. The court was told that the policy does not define a pet dog and a commercial dog properly, hence it be declared void and unconstitutional.
The high court bench of justice MMS Bedi has sought response from the Centre and the DGFT by July 19.
‘Look after street dogs, why fuss over pets?’
Reacting to the Centre’s import policy, she said, “Why doesn’t the government look after street dogs. There are hordes and hordes of them. Why can’t they let me import and keep a pup of my choice?”
Brar said the government was infringing upon her rights and was not honouring the sanctity of a licence granted by it. “What purpose will this ban serve? Illegal import is already happening through Thailand,” she said, urging the government to focus on such trade of animals.
She said there was no rationale behind the government decision since some categories such as the army are allowed to import animals. She also wanted to know why the government has banned the import of dogs and not other animals.
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On September 29th, 2017 the Hon’ble High Court of Punjab and Haryana held,
Since the case of the petitioner herself is that she does not want to import dog(s) for the commercial purpose and only requires to import the dog(s) as pet dog(s), therefore, I do not find any kind of restriction imposed in the impugned notification especially in view of Clause 7(i) of the notification. The petitioner, if so desires, in order to import pet dog(s) with valid pet book and relevant records or documents executed in her name, may apply to the competent authority under the provisions of the Act and the Policy. In case such an application is filed with valid import license, the competent authority shall consider the application of the petitioner and decide the same by passing a speaking order within one month and if so required by giving an opportunity of hearing also.
Since, the import license of the petitioner is stated to have expired, therefore, the petitioner may, if so advised, apply for the import license for the pet dog(s), which shall be issued to the petitioner, in accordance with law.
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