New Delhi: Supreme Court today constituted a three-member committee headed by a former Kerala High Court judge to look into the complaints of dog bite victims in the state and availability of necessary medical treatment to the injured.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh constituted the panel, consisting of Justice Siri Jaga, a former judge of the Kerala High Court, Secretary of the state's Law Department and its Director of Health Services.
The court said the committee shall identify the hospitals where the anti-rabies vaccines are available free of charge.
"The committee shall entertain the complaints with regard to the injuries sustained by the persons in the dog bite, the nature and gravity of the injury, availability of medicines and the treatment administered to them, the failure of treatment and its cure and in case of unfortunate death, the particulars of the deceased and the reasons behind the same.
"The committee shall also identify the centres/hospitals where the anti-rabies vaccines are available free of charge," the bench said.
It further said after receiving the findings of the committee, the court will decide the issue of granting of compensation or making certain arrangements for the victims.
"We are absolutely certain that without the fact finding enquiry, this court will not be in a position to deal with the compensation facet," the bench said, adding that the first report be submitted to it within 12 weeks.
The order came on a plea filed by one Jos Sebastian whose wife, a MNREGA worker, was killed after she was bit by a stray dog.
Advocate VK Biju, appearing for the petitioner, had sought a direction to the concerned authorities for grant of appropriate compensation to the victim.
He has also sought an interim direction by appointing a commission to go through the issues and the recent attacks of stray dogs and what medical facilities and protection were provided by the government and also submission of a report to the court.
The court also directed the State government to pay Rs 40,000 as compensation to the petitioner within four weeks.
It, however, made it clear that this kind of application shall not be entertained from now on and any person aggrieved could approach the committee and not directly move the Supreme Court or the High Court.
The court has listed the matter for further proceedings on July 12.
The Supreme Court had on March 9 asked states and civic bodies to take steps to sterilise and vaccinate nuisance-causing stray dogs under the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The court is hearing a batch of appeals, including those filed by Animal Welfare Board and dog lovers, against the decisions of some high courts including the Bombay High Court and Kerala High Court to allow municipal authorities to deal with the stray dogs menace.
Earlier, the court had said the local authorities have a "sacrosanct duty to provide sufficient number of dog pounds, including animal kennels/shelters" which may be managed by the animal welfare organisations.
Animal Welfare Board of India, in its plea, has sought that the central law, which mandates birth control of street dogs through strict implementation of the Animal Birth Control Dogs Rules, be followed.
The court had earlier declined to pass an interim order to stay culling of stray dogs by Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation on a PIL by advocate Anupam Tripathi, saying the killing of dangerous dogs and those inflicted with rabies should be guided by the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001.