The Punjab and Haryana High Court has accorded the status of “legal person or entity” to animals in Haryana, granting them the “corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person”. The verdict comes nearly a year after Uttarakhand High Court passed a similar order “to protect and promote greater welfare of animals”.
Both the orders were written by Justice Rajiv Sharma, who was transferred from Uttarakhand to the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh last year.
Justice Sharma was also part of the bench in Uttarkahand that had in 2017 declared rivers Ganga and Yamuna as living entities, a verdict that was later stayed by the Supreme Court.
Stating that animals cannot be treated as “objects” or “property” and are “entitled to justice”, Justice Sharma, in the order pronounced in a criminal revision plea on Friday, said, “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 verdict reads.
Signing off the verdict with “live and let live” motto, Justice Sharma said, “All the citizens throughout the state of Haryana are hereby declared persons in loco parentis (meaning – in the place of a parent) as the human face for the welfare/protection of animals.”
Many of the directions in the verdict for Haryana were passed by a division bench of Justices Sharma and Lok Pal Singh for Uttrakhand on July 4, 2018.
Among the guidelines issued on Friday, the single bench of Justice Sharma directed the Haryana government to ensure that draught animals do not carry more than prescribed load while pulling a vehicle.
Directing owners of bullock carts, camel carts and horse carts to put florescent reflectors in the front and back of their carts, Justice Sharma said that the animals shall also be covered with stripes of fluorescent reflectors for their identification at night.