Task force to capture stray dogs told to set up helpline in three days for public complaints

Updated January 15, 2020

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The court directed the authorities to complete the process within a week and ordered the chief secretary, if compliance was not made, to appear in person on the next date to inform the court of the reasons behind the delay. — AFP via Hindustan Times
The court directed the authorities to complete the process within a week and ordered the chief secretary, if compliance was not made, to appear in person on the next date to inform the court of the reasons behind the delay. — AFP via Hindustan Times

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday once again expressed resentment at provincial authorities for a further delay in the approval of a PC-I for a proposed project to detain and release dogs after sterilisation and vaccination.

The court directed the authorities to complete the process within a week and ordered the chief secretary, if compliance was not made, to appear in person on the next date to inform the court of the reasons behind the delay.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar also summoned for Jan 29 the chairman of a task force, recently constituted on a court order to help local administration in detention and control of stray/street dogs, after the District Municipal Corporation Central complained against the body.

It directed the task force chairman, the special secretary of the local government department, to set up a public helpline to register their complaints within three days.

The bench also issued a show-cause notice to the executive director of the National Institute of Child Health after an additional secretary-health submitted that the NICH did not provide details regarding the treatment of a boy who died after being bitten by rabid dogs in Larkana at the hospital during treatment.

The SHC expresses annoyance over delay in approval of PC-I for sterilisation and vaccination of dogs

In the last hearing, the bench had expressed concerns over the provincial officials for lingering on the approval of a PC-I for the proposed project and granted last chance to authorities to complete the process within 20 days.

The bench was hearing a petition about the rise in dog-bite incidents in the province and shortage of anti-rabies vaccines at government-run hospitals.

On Tuesday, a local government official submitted a report on behalf of the LG secretary stating that a summary had been sent to the chief minister on Dec 26, 2019 for the approval of the PC-I for the proposed project — Fight against rabies & checking population of stray dogs programme Sindh.

The report further stated that the LG minister, chairperson of the planning and development board, finance secretary and chief secretary had already endorsed the summary, which now requires final approval of the chief minister.

“We have noted that much time has been spent on the approval of PC-I which is against the larger public interest. Such type of efforts should have been taken expeditiously and on priority basis so that the miseries of public at large may be ventilated, but it is strange that no positive efforts are being made for the approval of PC-I except asking dates for compliance,” the bench observed.

The additional advocate general once again sought more time and the bench granted seven days to him as a last chance and said the chief secretary would have to appear in person on the next date if no order was passed on the summary.

The bench directed the chairman of the task force to appear in court on the next date and inform it about the efforts made on the request of DMC-Central over non-availability of poison in its jurisdiction.

The court said that on the last date of hearing, the task force was directed to set up a helpline for public to lodge complaints and to take prompt action on such complaints, but the order was not complied with.

It directed the task force chairman to implement the order within three days.

The additional secretary-LG submitted that the last meeting of the task force was convened on Jan 10, but the representatives of cantonment boards failed to turn up.

When the bench confronted the lawyers for the cantonment boards they submitted that prior information for the next meeting should be given to the executive officers so that they may ensure their presence.

The additional secretary-health also submitted a progress report in compliance with the court order passed with regard to the dog-bite victim, Hasnain Bughio, in Larkana.

The bench observed that its order was partially complied with, as the report of the NICH was not filed.

Documents provided by the Chandka Medical College Hospital, Larkana said that the incident occurred on Nov 14, 2019 and medical aid/vaccination was immediately provided to the victim, who was shifted to the NICH since his condition deteriorated.

The additional secretary informed the bench that a letter was communicated to the NICH director on Jan 7 to provide complete record about the victim, but the NICH made no efforts to produce the details.

The lawyer for DMC-West and the additional advocate general pointed out that an identical petition had also been filed with the Sukkur bench of SHC and in order to avoid conflicting judgements, record and proceedings of the petition may be called to the principal seat in Karachi.

The bench said that the arguments raised by the counsel seemed to be quite logical, but for this purpose the writ branch of the principal seat may move a reference to the chief justice for passing an administrative order in this regard.

The bench directed the DMCs and cantonment boards to continue their efforts against street dogs as they submitted progress reports.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2020