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Report No. 261

Need to Regulate Pet Shops and Dog and Aquarium Fish Breeding

Chapter I

Background to the Report

A. Introduction

1.1.1 In May 2015, the Law Commission of India ("the Commission") received a letter from Major General (Retd) Dr R.M. Kharb, the Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India ("AWBI"), which is a statutory body established under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 ("the PCA Act"). The letter from the AWBI Chairman sought guidance regarding the Central Government's authority to enact rules regulating certain animal shops and breeders.

1.1.2 The AWBI had drafted three sets of rules regarding pet shops ("Pet Shop Rules, 2010"), dog breeding ("Dog Breeding, Marketing and Sale Rules, 2010"), and aquarium fish breeding ("Aquarium Fish Breeding and Marketing Rules"), and sent it onward to the Animal Welfare Division of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change ("MoEF") for scrutiny. But the Animal Welfare Division, MoEF indicated that it was not empowered to notify such rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 ("the PCA Act").

1.1.3 MoEF had also sought the opinion of the Ministry of Law and Justice ("MLJ") on the issue, a copy of which was also forwarded to the Commission. According to the MLJ, the PCA Act is silent with respect to pet shops, dog breeding and aquarium fish breeding, and that rules cannot be framed unless there is an enabling provision that confers power on the Central Government to do so.

The MLJ further noted that, although section 38 of the PCA Act provides that "the Central Government may make rules providing for all or any of the following matters, namely: (1) any other matter which has to be, or may be prescribed," there must still be a specific enabling/substantive provision regarding the matter to be regulated, and section 38 does not mention pet shops, dog breeding, or aquarium fish breeding.

1.1.4 On his part, the AWBI Chairman pointed out that the Government had earlier notified rules regarding performing animals, slaughter houses, animal birth control, draught and pack animals, and the licensing of farriers, and therefore, requested guidance from the Commission regarding the rules in question relating to pet shops, dog breeding, and aquarium fish breeding.

1.1.5 In its response to the AWBI Chairman dated 28 May 2015, the Commission expressed its inability to take up the study on the subject at that time. However, the Commission received several representations around the same time, urging it to take up the issue, and, therefore, the Commission decided that it would be prudent to examine the issue in further detail.

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