P&H HC | “Live and let live”, concludes the Court; Animals acknowledged as legal entity; New beginning for welfare laws against animals

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Rajiv Sharma, J. allowed a revision petition against the order of the Additional Session Judge whereby the conviction imposed upon the petitioners by the learned Judicial Magistrate First Class was maintained.

The facts of the case were that on secret information being received by ASI Azad Singh and other police officers regarding export of the cows to the state of Uttar Pradesh in truck and further information regarding the truck being at the Meerut, a police picket was laid down near Yamuna bridge before Haryana-Uttar Pradesh boundary, from where the cows were recovered from truck and driver as well as conductor was apprehended.

The prosecution examined witnesses and the statements of the accused were recorded under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Thereafter the petitioner were convicted and sentenced to undergo imprisonment and paid the fine under Sections 4-b and 8 of the Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955. An appeal was made by the petitioner which was dismissed but the punishment was reduced from two years to six months.

The learned counsel for the state vehemently supported the prosecution case as it was found that petitioners were not in possession of any export permit. It was also submitted that the cows were packed in a cruel and brutal manner without following the rules as laid down under Rule 94 of Haryana Motor Vehicles Rules, 1993.

The Court in its judgment of 104 pages discussed about the various Central rules like Prevention of Cruelty to Daughter and Pack Animal Rules, 1965, Transport of Animal Rules, 1978, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dog Breeding and Marketing) Rules, 2017 and thereby directed the Haryana Government to implement the rules in the State.

One of the reasons the court gave for including the animal as the legal entity quoted in the words of Stone was, “that legal personality plays an important part in making a thing count in the eyes of the law. The conferral of legal personality upon rightless objects or beings carries with it legal recognition that those objects or beings have “worth and dignity” in their own right. Until we attribute personality to a rightless entity, we are likely to be unable to conceive of it as “anything but a thing for the use of ‘us’ – those who are holding rights at the time.

After citing a plethora of cases, text ranging from ancient books, literature, and idea of the legal thinkers, the court concluded that The multiplicity of animal beings with whom we share our world deserve to be treated not as means to human ends, but as ends in themselves. Having arrogated to ourselves complete power over our animal kin, their liberation rests in our hands. The court also quoted, “The shelter of the legal umbrella would also provide more effective protection of animal interests than is available under current animal welfare law. As legal persons, animals could be recognized as parties to legal actions, because they would have the independent standing that they currently lack.”

Before giving the concluding statement regarding the status of the legal entity to animals, detailed twenty eight mandatory guidelines were issued for the welfare of the animal kingdom which included ‘direction for not exceeding the load while driving vehicle, not to harness any animal for purpose of drawing vehicle at the high temperature, ban on instruments like spike sticks, to use fluorescent reflectors, giving right to way to the animal cart, etc.’

The Court opined, that “The entire animal kingdom, including avian and aquatic, are declared legal entities having a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person. All citizens throughout Haryana are hereby declared persons in loco parentis the human face for the welfare/protection of animals.”[Karnail Singh v. State of Haryana, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 704, decided on 31-05-2019]

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