Upholding the rights of the “entire animal kingdom”, the Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday, declared all animals, including avian and aquatic species as legal entities, with the “rights, duties and liabilities of a living person”.
“The entire animal kingdom including avian and aquatic are declared as legal entities having a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person,” the order, given by the Division Bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh stated.
The order further declared all Uttarakhand citizens as “ as the human face for the welfare and protection of animals”.
The Division Bench was hearing a PIL by Narayan Dutt Bhatt, filed in the year 2014 where the petitioner had sought directions to restrict the movement of horse carts, or tongas between Indian and Nepal through Banbasa in Uttarakhand’s Champawat district.
However, the High Court enlarged the scope of the petition in larger public interest to promote the protection and welfare of the animals. The judgment was reserved on June 13 and was delivered on Wednesday. The Court directed the state that no animal, including horses moving between India and Nepal, carries excess weight. It also banned the use of any “sharp equipment” throughout the state, “to avoid bruises, swelling, abrasions or severe pain” to animals.
Adding to this, the Uttarakhand government was also directed to ensure “that in an area where the temperature exceeds 37 degrees Celsius between 11 am and 4 pm in summers and when the temperature is below 5 degrees Celsius between 5 am to 7 am and between 10 pm to 5 am in winter season no person is permitted to keep any animal used for the purpose of drawing vehicles”.
The municipal bodies in the state must provide suitable shelters to horses, and bullocks, the order stated. The court order also gave directions on transportation of animals. “No goods vehicle shall carry more than six cattle. Each goods vehicle shall be provided with one attendant… The animals shall be transported on foot only when the temperature is between 12 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius… (animals must be) provided water with every two hours and food every four hours,” the order stated.
The court directed the state government to ensure that “every animal to be transported should be healthy and in good condition. A certificate of a veterinary doctor in respect of each animal to be transported is made compulsory as per Rule 4 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Transport of Animals on Foot) Rules, 2001”. Also, all veterinary doctors across Uttarakhand must treat the animals brought to them by the citizens of the state. If the animal cannot be brought to the doctor, then the doctor must “personally visit and attend the stray cattle, or animal without delay”, the order stated.