Mumbai Police Dogs Squad detecting during High Alert at Bombay High court, In Mumbai on Monday... Photo by Bhushan Koyande
Mumbai Police Dogs Squad detecting during High Alert at Bombay High court, In Mumbai on Monday... Photo by Bhushan Koyande

Observing that separation from their handlers might cause tremendous mental trauma to the dogs, the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT), on Thursday, stayed the transfer orders of six dog handlers of the bomb squad force of Pune city police. MAT said if the dogs are separated from their handlers suddenly, it would make an impact on the efficiency of the animal's work in the police force.

A bench of Justice Mridula Bhatkar, the chairperson of MAT, was moved by the six constables, who have been working as dog handlers in the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) since the last decade. However, on September 26, the joint commissioner of police, Pune, by virtue of a general transfer order, transferred these six constables to other departments in the city.

Appearing for the constables, advocate Punam Mahajan, told the bench that there are around 8 dogs in the bomb squad and each of them have at least two handlers. However, since these six men have been transferred, five of the dogs are facing psychological trauma and aren't taking any commands from the new handlers. She further argued that separating the dogs from the usual handlers would amount to cruelty.

Having heard the matter for sometime, Justice Bhatkar stayed the transfer orders, after taking note of the two letters, issued by the central and the state intelligence departments, suggesting against transferring dog handlers to other departments before the concerned dog retires from service. "Thus the dog and dog handler work as a team and they should not be separated in the interest of bringing about overall and significant improvement in the performance of sniffer dogs," Justice Bhatkar said.

The judge further noted that the dogs are employed in the dog squad and are salaried.

"However, this is that class of employees, who cannot speak and take up their grievances. Hence, it is all the more important to hear and attend to them immediately. The transfer of the dog handlers undoubtedly leads to tremendous mental trauma to the dog and, therefore, in the interest of Bomb Disposal Squad, I hereby stay all the transfer orders," Justice Bhatkar ordered.

The bench, accordingly, ordered the authorities to bring back these six dog handlers in the BDDS cell and allow them to handle the same dogs with immediate effect.

With a directive to the authorities in Pune police to reconsider its decision, the bench has adjourned the matter for hearing till November.

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