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“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. All citizens throughout Haryana are hereby declared persons in loco parentis (responsible for a child in parents’ absence) as the human face for the welfare/protection of animals.”
The order was passed in a case where the Court was informed that 29 cows were packed in a cruel manner while being transported from Uttar Pradesh to Haryana. In response, Justice Sharma’s order emphasises that animals cannot be reduced to mere property. Striking an empathetic note, Justice Sharma appeals in his order,
“We have to show compassion towards all living creatures. Animals may be mute but we as a society have to speak on their behalf. No pain or agony should be caused to the animals. Cruelty to animals also causes psychological pain to them. In Hindu Mythology, every animal is associated with god. Animals breathe like us and have emotions. The animals require food, water, shelter, normal behavior, medical care, self-determination.”
In view of these observations, the High Court has issued 29 animal-welfare oriented directions.
This includes a ban in using animals to pull vehicles in extreme weather, limits on loads and the number of people that animals are made to carry, limits on the distances that an animal is made to walk at a stretch, instructions on how to tether an animal to the vehicle it is made to pull and a ban on the use of spike sticks, harness and other sharp instruments to avoid injuring the animal.
The Court has also directed that animal-driven carts are given the right of way. Further, Justice Sharma has ordered that 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.
This apart, 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. Among other notable directions, veterinary doctors have been directed to treat stray animals brought to them. The state authorities have also been directed to make sufficient housing and food provisions available for stray animals.
Justice Sharma signs off his 104 page order by observing,
“Live and let live.”
The list of directions issued by Justice Sharma in this order are as follows:
Justice Sharma was part of the Uttarakhand High Court Bench that passed a similar ruling in July last year, whereby all citizens in Uttarakhand were declared guardians responsible for the protection of animals. In August the same year, he also sat on the Bench that invoked the parens patriae doctrine to assume the role of legal guardian for cows and other cattle in Uttarakhand.
In 2017 Justice Sharma was part of the Bench that declared rivers Ganga and Yamuna living persons. Later, the same Bench extended this protection to the flora and fauna surrounding the two rivers as well.
Read the order: