An Allahabad based NGO, People’s Charioteer Organization has approached the Supreme Court seeking inter alia, the entire animal kingdom including avian and aquatic species shall be declared as “legal entities” having a distinct persona with corresponding rights of a living person. The Public Interest Litigation is filed through Advocate Shashwat Anand and Devesh Saxena, its objective is to prevent animal cruelty by strengthening animal protection laws in the country.
The PIL has also urged the court to declare all citizens of India as loco parentis i.e. “in place of a parent” in order to ensure the protection of animals from cruelty and abuse. The petition came after the recent shocking instances of animal cruelty including Kerala’s Elephant Tragedy. “Lately, a couple of cases of cruelty towards animals have come to light in the past few months which have raised questions as to how humans have absolutely no respect for animals’ lives and how can they can be absolutely devoid of sympathy. Such incidents have further enraged many and made one ponder as to whether the laws in existence are sufficient enough to protect animals from possible abuse and cruelty” the petition says.
The plea has referred to the decisions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Karnail Singh & Ors. vs. the State of Haryana and of the Uttarakhand High Court in Narayan Dutt Bhatt vs. UoI and Ors. in which respective courts have recognized all animals in the animal kingdom as “legal entities” and all citizens of these states were declared “persons in loco parentis”
Pointing out to the flawed implementations of various legislations, the petition states, “Owing to which we’re witnessing a prevailing epidemic of cases of Animal Abuse and Animal Cruelty. Over the years, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 has lost its glory due to lack of enforcement and inadequate/liberal penal provisions.”
Further on, the petition sought that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shall be directed to report and publish data relating to the number of reported cases and convictions against animal cruelty in their Annual NCRB reports separately. Also, it has asked directions for the Central Governments to form an independent committee to review the entire legal framework in the existing legislation against animal cruelty, as to ensure effective implementation.
The petition has, therefore, urged the Hon’ble Court to exercise its power under Article 142 of the Constitution in the interest of public justice. “Issue an appropriate writ, order or direction issuing and framing guidelines in order to fill the gaping legal lacunae with an objective to ensure and implement the effective and purposeful legal framework for the protection and welfare of Animals in India”, the plea added.
The plea states: “As per our Vedas, Dharma-Shastras in Sanatan Dharma, the teachings of the Quran, Hadith in Islam, and the teachings of the Bible in Christianity, animals are accorded similar status as that of humans and have been recognized as conscious beings, and cruelty towards any living being has been severely frowned upon, abhorred and castigated, and likewise in all cultures, religions, and ways of lives.”