It is not uncommon for pet owners to call themselves ‘pet parents’ and treat their animal companions as family members.

But the Bombay High Court has held that pet animals, including cats and dogs, cannot be considered human beings.


Interestingly, the court’s observation came in a case that has nothing to do with pets or how their owners treat them.

The Bombay HC bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and Prithviraj Chavan made the observations while quashing an FIR registered for rash driving against a Swiggy delivery agent who had accidentally mowed down a stray dog while delivering an order.

The accused, Manas Godbole, was 18 years old and was working as a Swiggy delivery partner when he met with an accident in April 2020.

While he was riding his vehicle, it hit a stray dog trying to cross the road, resulting in its death.


Sections 279 and 337 not applicable to animals  

A woman feeding stray dogs at Marine Drive saw the incident and filed a police complaint against him.

Following this, Godbole was booked by the Marine Drive police under IPC Sections 279, 337 and 449 and Section 11(a)(b) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

However, the Bombay HC held that booking the accused under IPC Sections 279, 337 and 449 defied logic.

“No doubt, a dog/cat is treated as a child or as a family member by their owners, but basic biology tells us that they are not human beings. Sections 279 and 337 of the Indian Penal Code pertains to acts endangering human life, or likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person. Thus, legally speaking, the said Sections will have no application to the facts in hand, this essential ingredient necessary to constitute the offences, being amiss,” the bench observed.

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BCCL/ File

‘Recover cost from salary of Police officials’

The bench further noted that the petitioner did not intend to cause the dog’s death.

“The incident shows that the dog crossed the road, as a result of which, the petitioner’s bike, due to sudden braking, skidded and as such the petitioner sustained injuries on his person in the said incident and the dog got injured and later succumbed to the same,” the court said.

While ordering to quash the FIR registered against Godbole, the HC also imposed a cost of Rs. 20,000 on the state and directed that the amount be recovered from the concerned officers’ salaries.

“The police being the custodian of law, need to be more circumspect and cautious whilst registering FIRs and of course, later, whilst filing chargesheet,” the court said.

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