Sunday 10 October 2021

New Delhi, India: controversy over keeping pets in a luxury apartment complex

There is a luxury apartment and house complex in New Delhi, in the prime East Delhi area of Mayur Vihar I. It is called IFS Apartments. It was built by a co-operative society formed by IFS officers.

They've had a rule there since 2011 that leaseholders of the flats i.e. the owners, and the tenants who rent their flats cannot keep cats and dogs or other pets. They let this rule become a little bit slack by which I mean they appear not to have enforced it very carefully. This has allowed some apartment dwellers to keep cats for instance and in one case a woman living there has had a cat for three years. She found the cat particularly helpful during the Covid pandemic lockdown. 

Delhi’s IFS Apartments
Delhi’s IFS Apartments. Image in public domain.

New tenants who rent from landlords have to sign an agreement that they are fully aware that they cannot keep pets.

The residents of the complex say that the rules governing the keeping of pets are unconstitutional because the Animal Welfare Board of India said, in a circular of 2014, that the ban interfered with a fundamental freedom which was guaranteed to all citizens of India. There is a clash of rules, one at a apartment complex level, and one had a higher level.

I have not checked out the argument. Certainly, the management company who run the apartment complex appear to have ignored the Animal Welfare Board of India circular and continuing with the ban after the circular was issued. I have to say that no constitution states that citizens have a right to keep pets. I belive that the circular is ineffective in this instance.

Some tenants and leaseholders are moving out of the complex. They are aggrieved with the anti-pet policy. One of them is a lawyer, Vasudha Mehta, who is moving out with her husband and two children. They have lived there since 2014. They appear to have rented initially and then they bought their home in 2016. They signed the agreement not to keep pets but didn't really apply their minds to it.

During the lockdown period and with children in the home constantly they decided to get a puppy to ease the mental strain, she said. They found that the management committee started to harass them by reminding them of the agreement that they signed.

On August 29, 2020, there was a problem with dog poop at the complex and a notice was put up by the management committee saying, in capital letters, “NO NEW DOGS MAY BE BROUGHT INTO THE COMPLEX BY RESIDENTS. DOG-OWNERS ARE REQUESTED TO SHOW CONSIDERATION FOR OTHER RESIDENTS AND RESPECT THE NEED FOR KEEPING THE COMPLEX CLEAN.”

The problem here is that in the past it wasn't an issue to keep pets despite the rule. Now the rules are being enforced and the residents don't like it. On the basis that the Animal Welfare Board of India circular is not enforceable (and I don't think it is) then I'm afraid the residents will have to put up with the rule or leave if they want to keep a pet.

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