Take Care of Animals as your Own Children: Punjab & Haryana High Court

Pashu Sandesh, 04 June 2019

In a Landmark judgement, Punjab & Haryana High court on 31st May opined that the “entire Animal Kingdom, including Avian and Aquatic species, has distinct legal persona with corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities of a living person”.

A single judge bench chaired by Justice Rajiv Sharma was hearing the case in a criminal revision petition filed by persons convicted of unlawfully exporting cows from Haryana under Section 4B of the Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, a statute applicable to both Punjab and Haryana. Justice Sharma in his order said that all the citizens throughout the State of Haryana are hereby declared persons in loco parentis as the human face for the welfare/protection of animals,  which means that citizens have the legal responsibilities and functions similar to those of a parent in the case of minor Children, to take care of the animals.

“All animals have honour and dignity. Every species has an inherent right to live and is required to be protected by law. The privacy and the rights of animals are to be respected and protected from unlawful attacks,” says the order. Justice Sharma based his judgement on an earlier decision by the Supreme Court of India in the case of Animal Welfare Board of India vs Nagaraja, in which the Apex court had said that the right to dignity and fair treatment as enshrined in and arising out of Article 21 of India’s Constitution is “not confined to human beings alone, but animals as well.”

Court has also issued following  mandatory directions for the welfare of animal kingdom:

  • The State Government is directed to ensure that the draught animals do not carry the load while driving vehicles more than prescribed.
  • It is also made clear that where the route by which a vehicle is to be drawn involves an ascent for not less than one kilometre and the gradient is more than three meters in a distance of thirty metres, the weight shall be half of what is specified by this Court.
  • in any area where the temperature exceeds 37°C (99°F) during the period between 11.00 am and 4.00 p.m. in summers and when the temperature is below 5°C between 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and between 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in winter season no person is permitted to keep or cause to be kept in harness any animal used for the purpose of drawing vehicles. 
  • The State Government is directed to ensure that every animal to be transported should be healthy and in good condition. A certificate of a veterinary doctor in respect of each animal to be transported is made compulsory as per Rule 4 of CRR-533-2013 the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Transport of Animals on Foot) Rules, 2001.

Many other directions have been issued which can be accessed from the Punjab and Haryana high court website.