Supreme Court issues notice in plea seeking to declare entire animal kingdom as a legal entity, CJI observes prayer 'difficult to grant'
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Supreme Court issues notice in plea seeking to declare entire animal kingdom as a legal entity, CJI observes prayer 'difficult to grant'

The plea states that bestowing the status of “Legal Personality/Entity” should be construed as extending of the rights of a living person to the animal kingdom

Debayan Roy

The Supreme Court today issued notice on a plea seeking to declare the entire animal kingdom as a legal entity. Notice was issued by a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.

The petition has been filed by an Allahabad-based NGO, People's Charioteer Organization (PCO), through Advocates Devesh Saxena and Shashwat Anand.

The plea states that bestowing the status of “Legal Personality/Entity” should be construed as extending of the rights of a living person to the animal kingdom and that it should solely be considered for the purposes of halting “Animal Cruelty” as defined under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

CJI Bobde, however, orally observed today that it would be "difficult" for the Court to grant the prayer for declaring the animal kingdom as a legal entity.

"What kind of prayer have you made? You want entire animal kingdom to be treated as legal entity? You want them to be capable of suing and being sued? Animals have protection under various statutes."

remarked CJI Bobde

He added,

"You are talking about an increase in liability. We understand humans should be punished for hurting animals but we are on the 'legal entity' argument. We are issuing notice but it is unlikely that we will entertain your prayer for legal entity."

The plea states that over time our kinship with animals has morphed into abuse, owing to which the welfare of animals is highly compromised.

"Now we see animals purely for their utility; in fact, a perception has been created that humans always have precedence over animals. It has now become common practice to inflict cruelty upon them," reads the plea.

The petitioner today sought to explain before the CJI how animals were equal to humans and deserved the same treatment.

"(Under) the law as it is now, animals are not treated equal to humans", the petitioner's counsel submitted.

"You mean to say your dog is equal to you. You are truly confused", CJI Bobde responded.

"Religious texts say animals are akin to humans but lower in evolution strata", the counsel added.

The petitioner has submitted that as per the Vedas, Dharma-Shashtras in Sanatan Dharma, the teachings of the Quran, Hadiths 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.

However, the Court expressed its reservations in accepting the plea for according the status of a legal entity to the animal kingdom. Nevertheless, it has issued notice on the plea.

CJI stated that the Court would delete Prayer (a) and issue notice in the matter.

However, this was opposed by the petitioner who submitted that it would prejudice the judgements already passed by Punjab and Haryana High Court (in Karnail Singh & Ors v. State of Haryana, 2019) and also Uttarakhand High Court (in Narayan Dutt Bhatt v. Union of India & Ors, 2018).

The petition states that as per data, between 2012 and 2015, there were over 24,000 cases of animal cruelty reported under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

"Thus, by a simple mathematical calculation one can easily imagine the innumerable amount of cases of Animal abuse and cruelty over the years, till date," reads the plea.

The petition also prays for directions to the National Crime Records Bureau to record cruelty cases of animal cruelty and a direction to the States so that prompt FIRs can be registered when cruelty to animals is meted out.

Read the plea:

SC Animal Cruelty PIL (PCO vs UoI ).pdf
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