In the matter of Karnail Singh & Ors V. State of Haryana the Punjab and Haryana High Court pronounced its judgment on 31st May which declared the entire animal kingdom including avian and aquatic as legal entities. The court in its order with the motive of promoting animal welfare and to provide rights to animals held that all animals have a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person. It observed 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.” While expanding the area of animal right the court stated that all the animals have honor and dignity, every species have an inherent right to live and is required to be protected by law. The rights and privacy of animals are to be respected and protected from unlawful attacks.
The single judge bench of Hon’ble Justice Rajiv Sharma observes that “The Corporations, Hindu idols, holy scriptures, rivers have been declared legal entities and thus, in order to protect and promote greater welfare of animals including avian and aquatic, animals are required to be conferred with the status of legal entity/ legal person. The animals should be healthy, comfortable, well nourished, safe, able to express innate behavior without pain, fear and distress. They are entitled to justice. The animals cannot be treated as objects or property".
The Court’s decision was passed in a petition filed before it where the Court was informed that 29 cows were packed in a cruel manner while being transported from Uttar Pradesh to Haryana. In response to above complaint the court emphasized that animals cannot be reduced to mere property and thereby to achieve the above motive passed 29 animal welfare oriented directions to the Government. The directions includes that no person, in charge of any vehicle drawn by any animal can allow more than four persons, excluding the driver and children below 6 years of age to ride the vehicle. The Court banned the use of spike stick or bit, harness or yoke with spikes, knobs or projections or any other sharp tackle or equipment throughout the State of Haryana to avoid bruises, swelling, abrasions or severe pain to the animal.
The Court also directed that animal-driven carts are given the right of way. Also, the use of animals for such purposes should be limited to nine hours a day, and not more than five hours without a break. The animal should also be given water at appropriate intervals. Apart from this Justice Sharma has directed that fluorescent reflectors be attached to animal-driven carriages and the animal to ensure that they are visible at night. Compulsory shelter of suitable size is to be provided for horses, bullocks and stray cattle by municipal bodies. The 104-Paged judgment includes many other notable directions along with these aimed solely towards providing right and dignity to the animals.