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Animals Declared As 'legal Persons' By Punjab And Haryana High Court, Big Step Towards Their Protection

Written By Digital Desk | Mumbai | Published:

In what comes as great news for all animal lovers, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has in an order delivered on Friday granted the status of “legal person or entity” to the animals in Haryana.

The move entitles all the animals to “corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person”. A similar verdict came out last year from the Uttarakhand High Court to “protect and promote greater welfare of animals”. Both the orders were written and given by Justice Rajiv Sharma.

“The corporations, Hindu idols, holy scriptures and 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,” said Justice Sharma.

The verdict staunchly agrees that animals should be given similar rights like those of humans. “The animals should be healthy, comfortable and well nourished; safe, able to express innate behaviour without pain, fear and distress. They are entitled to justice. The animals cannot be treated as objects or property,” the verdict reads.

The verdict also issued guidelines which prevent the animals from being made to carry extra load above the prescribed limitations at any point of time. Justice Sharma also mentioned that the animal carts should compulsorily be fitted with reflectors at both ends. This step comes after repeated instances of road accidents wherein the number of animal fatalities has increased. The animals will also be covered with fluorescent reflectors for their identification at night.

The High Court has also mentioned animal-oriented guidelines like avoiding usage of animals to pull vehicles in extreme and poor weather conditions, limitations on distances when an animal is made to walk at one stretch, ban on usage of spiked sticks, harness or any other sharp objects that might cause injuries to the animals. Justice Sharma concluded his order by maintaining “live and let live”.  

Justice Sharma was transferred from the Uttarakhand High Court to the Punjab and Haryana High Court last year. In addition, he was also a part of the bench that had declared the rivers Ganga and Yamuna as living entities in 2017. However, the Supreme Court had stayed that order.