Here is some good news for animals living along with the human race. The Uttarakhand High Court has declared “rights, duties, and liabilities of a living person” for all kinds of animals, including aquatic and avian species.
As per the order given by the Division Bench of Justice Lok Pal Singh and Justice Rajiv Sharma, “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 further declared all the citizens of Uttarakhand “as the human face for the welfare and protection of animals.” This order came in response to a PIL filed in 2014 by Narayan Dutt Bhatt who sought action against the movement of tongas between India and Nepal border through the Champawat district in Uttarakhand.
The court has directed the state government to see to it that no animal moving between Indian and Nepal border is made to carry excess of weight. The court has also put a ban on use of any sharp equipment or weapon for the animal in order to “avoid bruises, swelling, abrasions or severe pain.”
The government has also been directed to make sure 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 High court also gave suitable orders on animal transportation “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 court further ordered the state government to make sure 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.”
This is a welcome step from the High Court and we hope that this step will improve the living conditions of these mute innocent animals.