Landmark Judgement of Indian Judiciary on Animal Rights
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated- Mahatma Gandhi.”
India is a country which houses varied cultures, wildlife conservation programs and also gives utmost importance to environmental protection. It has been working towards making the environment sustainable for all living organisms since ages. Environmental conservation and the protection for wildlife has been anchored deeply in the roots of India’s adoration and devotion for nature. India has a firm adoration and is certainly devoted towards serving and caring for the mother nature. India’s love and adoration for the conservation of nature and protection of animal welfare can be traced all the way back to the colonial times. A lot of provisions were enacted with regards to the protection of animals. These provisions were specifically designed to recognize and juxtapose the rights of the animals with the rights which were guaranteed to the humans. These laws and measures were enacted as a result of the destruction which was caused in India post the British rule, because the British had perpetrated a lot of mayhem and massacre by their haphazard and wanton hunting practices. After India got its independence from the British, the legislature introduced a number of measures with regards to animal welfare on a national scale. This was done by the then government in power in order to ensure that non-human beings too live a life with dignity just like how humans do. This was done on a national level in order to protect and secure the well-being of animals by juxtaposing their rights with the rights of the humans. The judiciary of India has particularly played a major role with regards to the enforcement and applicability of laws which protect animal rights. The Indian judiciary has time and again stood up for this cause and ensured on a number of occasions that animals are not subjected to cruelty by humans. If at all, they are subjected to any sort of cruelty, then, the judiciary has on numerous occasions taken strict actions upon such individuals ensuring that they do not subject to animal cruelty again and this way it has taken up and supported the cause of animal welfare time and again.
Animal Welfare and the protection of animals has been given utmost importance by the Judiciary and the Legislature as animals are living creatures who cannot express in words what they may go through and it is extremely crucial to support animal rights just like how human rights are supported. Animal welfare has not exactly reached its zenith, however, the judiciary is constantly striving to uphold the rights of these creatures who may be vulnerable to violence on purpose by humans. If at all animals are neglected by humans or are subjected to violence on purpose, then such treatment which is meted out to them can be regarded as animal cruelty. Animal rights are advocated and supported by the judiciary and the legislature in the same way as human rights because it is quite imperative to safeguard and protect animals from oppression, confinement and the abusive treatment which they may be prone to suffer at the hands of the human beings. There are constant conflicts arising between human and animals and they are certainly rising in number with each passing day, which is exactly why it is the job of the judiciary to provide emphasis on animal rights as animal rights can be deemed to be regarded as the voice given to the animals to interact and co-exist with human beings amicably.
This article aims to provide an insight into the various conflicts which have arisen between animals and humans. It also talks specifically with regards to how the judiciary has played an important part in these issues and how it has time and again focused on providing justice to these creatures who cannot speak, enforcing animal rights and juxtaposing animal rights on the same level as human rights. India is one of the many countries that have an animal welfare law in place and these laws are drafted with the necessary provisions relating to Animal Rights which are even enumerated in the Constitution. The Indian Constitution too deals with the protection of rights of animals and certain provisions with regards to the protection of animals are provided under the Fundamental Duties and under the ambit of the Directive Principles of the State Policy. Article 51(A) of the Constitution of India deals with Fundamental Duties. Article 51(A)(g) provides, “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India- to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.” Similarly, Article 48A of the Directive Principles of the State Policy elucidates, “Protection and improvement of the environment and safeguarding of forests and the wildlife-The State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and the wildlife of the country.”
It is essential to understand that every individual who is a citizen of India enjoys absolute fundamental rights conferred under Part III of the Constitution of India. Subsequently, the animals who are living species, need to be protected and the humans as a community need to understand and consider their well-being and protect them from all sorts of inhibitions. Every living thing has a right to life and security, subject to the laws of the land which includes depriving its life, out of human necessity. Article 21 of the Constitution, while safeguarding the rights of humans, protects life and the word, “life” has been given an expanded definition and any disturbance from the basic environment which includes all forms of life, including animal life, which is necessary for human life, fall within the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Right to dignity and fair treatment is, therefore, not just confined to humans, but also to animals.
India is still in its infancy when it comes to dealing with the laws protecting animal rights. There is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Rights Act, 1960, The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and a few provisions of the Constitution of India which protect animal rights, however, there does exist a dire need for the enforcement of a new set of laws with the ever-increasing number of conflicts arising between animals and humans. However, these laws at present are not sufficient enough to protect the rights of animals. Regardless of that, the Indian Judiciary has done a tremendous job in filling the gaps which exist in these animal welfare laws and has time and again protected the rights of the animals significantly.
Here are the 15 Landmark Judgements wherein the courts have played a phenomenal role by transforming environmental jurisprudence in India and protecting the rights of animals and securing the environment.
- State of Bihar v. Murad Ali Baig, AIR 1989 SC 1.
This case dealt with the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. It specifically dealt with the hunting of elephants and whether the hunting of elephants is justified under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and under the necessary provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act. The word, “hunting” has been defined under Section 2(16) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 as follows: “Hunting means- i) the killing or poisoning of any wild animal or captive animal as well as an attempt to do so; ii) capturing, coursing, snaring, trapping, driving or baiting any animal as well as any attempt to do so; iii) injuring or destroying or taking any part of the body of any such animal; iv) in the case of wild birds or reptiles, damaging the eggs of such birds or reptiles or disturbing the eggs or nests of such birds or reptiles.”  The case further dealt with the provisions of Section 9 of the Act which lays down that, “No person shall hunt any wild animals specified in Schedules I, II, III and IV except as provided under Section 11 and 12 of the Act.”
Emphasis was laid upon the provisions of Section 11 and 12 of the Act, which provides a Schedule. Schedule I of the act contained a list of animals, amphibians, reptiles, fishes, birds and insects, e.g. Himalayan Brown Bears, Black Bucks, Cheetahs, elephants, crocodiles, pythons, whale sharks, sea horses, vultures, etc. Schedule II of the act covered animals like the Bengal Porcupine, wild dogs, chameleons, etc. Schedule III of the act covered animals like the barking deer, hog deer, hyenas, etc, however, the Schedule IV covered under its scope hares, pole cats, Indian porcupines and a lot of other species of birds like the cranes, the cuckoos and the bulbuls.
The Supreme Court in this case, held that since the elephant was an animal which fell under the scope and list of animals provided under the Schedule I, it can be assumed that the hunting of elephants is prohibited. The Court was also of the view that the offense of, “hunting” as defined under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, is not the same as the offense which is committed under Section 429 of the Indian Penal Code (which provides for the punishment for killing, poisoning, maiming, etc. of any elephants, camel, horse and other animals, the list of which is provided under the ambit of the said section.) The Supreme Court was of the view that the ingredients of the offense provided under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is quite contrary to the ingredients of the offense provided under the scope and ambit of the Indian Penal Code and hence the two offenses are not the same.
- Tilak Bahadur Rai v. State of Arunachal Pradesh, 1979 Cr. L.J. 1404.
In this case, the accused shot and killed a Tiger. It was held by the court that while taking a decision with regards to whether the accused acted in good faith or not when he killed a wild animal, it is imperative to understand the nature and the dangers that lurked around the accused and under what circumstances did the accused kill the animal. After due deliberations and arguments put forth by both the parties, the Court was of the view that the accused shot the tiger that charged at him in good faith and as a means to protect himself. The Court was of the view that if the accused hadn’t shot the tiger which was charging towards him, planning to attack him, then the accused would have been dead. Therefore, in order to protect himself, he shot the tiger and this can be amounted as self-defense and was, therefore, justified. It was also clarified in this judgement that if any animal is killed or wounded as by an individual as a means to protect himself, then such animal is the property of the government. The individual who has shot or killed or injured the animal has no claim on such an animal.
- Tarun Bharat Sangh, Alwar v. Union of India (1992 Supp (2) SCC 448)
In this case, a social action group, a voluntary organization, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court of India under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, claiming that the Rajasthan State Government had issued a number of Notifications declaring the Sariska Tiger Park as a sanctuary, however, the petitioner was of the view that there was widespread illegal mining activity going on in the aforesaid area and the State Government had issued licenses for carrying out such mining activities. It was held by the petitioner that there were a number of notifications issued previously which prohibited all sorts of mining activities in that area, however, the State Government of Rajasthan granted hundreds of licenses for conducting mining activities. The mining of marble, dolomite and other materials was being carried out which was deemed to be in total contravention to the guidelines which were laid down in the Notifications which were issued previously. The petitioner contended that these mining activities impaired the environment and the wildlife within the park. The Court then decided to appoint a committee which would study and understand the objective of the various acts and Notifications which were issued in respect of the particular protected area. The committee found that there were 215 mines which completely fell outside the areas which were deemed to be declared as protected forest, while the other 47 mines fell partially under the ambit and partially outside the ambit of the areas declared as protected forest. The Court was of the view that this was a simple matter wherein it was the job of the court to simply ensure whether the laws which were enacted in that particular area were being adhered to or not and it was the duty of the State to protect the environment and the ecology of the impugned area in question. The Supreme Court took cognizance of this situation and passed an order which directed that no mining operations could be conducted any further within the area which was demarcated as, “protected”. It also went on to further appoint a Committee headed by a retired judge to ensure that the wild life within the park is secure. Besides this, it directed that all the mining activities which were conducted in the mines which were located outside the protected forest areas, but within the territorial boundaries of the tiger reserve could continue for a period of four months, however, if no permission is obtained by the miners within a period of four months, then mining activities in the entire area which was declared as a tiger reserve had to be stopped for good.
- Naveen Raheja v. Union of India [(2001) 9 SCC 762].
In this case, the Supreme Court dealt with a gruesome issue. The issue was with regards to the skinning of a tiger in a zoo in Andhra Pradesh. The Supreme Court was in utter shock and dismay when it first heard the facts of the case. The Court was utterly tormented at the fact that such a gruesome act was indulged into by humans, rendering the voiceless animal helpless and in sheer pain and agony. The tiger received no protection from those whose duty it was to protect it and look after its well-being. The Top court of India, therefore, was of the view that it was extremely necessary to summon the chairperson of the Central Zoo Authority to appear before the court in person and to elucidate on what steps and measures were being taken to protect and preserve the tiger population in zoos and reserved forests. The Supreme Court then passed appropriate orders in the said issue and gave the necessary orders with regards to the protection of tigers. The Supreme Court elucidated that it is necessary for the Central Zoo Authority to take cognizance of this issue and take the necessary steps in order to protect the plight of these voiceless creatures as the situation in which they are is quite distressful and far from satisfactory.
- Ivory Traders and Manufacturers Association v. Union of India, AIR 1997 Del 267)
In this case, the petitioners were challenging the ban which was imposed upon them by the authorities for them having possession of mammoth ivory and articles made from mammoth ivory. The Petitioners in this petition which they had filed also challenged certain amendments which were made in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 whereby the trade of imported ivory articles was banned. The main contention of the Petitioners in this case was that they did not fall under the necessary provisions as provided under the ambit of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and they were not even covered by the Amendment Act No. 44 of 1991. The Petitioners were mainly aggrieved by the ban which was imposed by the Wildlife Protection Amendment Act, 1991, which curtailed them from trading and storing in ivory which was extracted from African Elephants. They contended that they dealt in the ivory which was legally sent to India and they were simply traders, causing no harm thereby to the African Elephants. They challenged the constitutional validity of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Wildlife Protection Amendment Act, 1991 on the grounds that it violated their right to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business as guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. A full bench of the Delhi High Court presided over this case and held that a ban which was imposed, imposing restrictions upon the sale and the trade of ivory products cannot be deemed to be regarded as unreasonable and unconstitutional. The Court was of the view that the restriction which was imposed under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Amendment to the Act was in consonance to the provisions of the Constitution and were not ultra vires the provisions of the Constitution. The restriction which was imposed upon the sale and the storage of ivory goods was a reasonable restriction on the fundamental right to carry on business. The Court was of the opinion that a law which is made to protect an animal who is at the brink of extinction, cannot be regarded as ultra vires to the provisions of the Constitution and the said amendment was done keeping in mind the protection of the endangered species. The Court held that such a law cannot be deemed to be regarded in contravention to the provisions guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.
READ MORE : Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund ( AHIDF ) Schemes 2021-2022
- Rajendra Kumar v. Union of India, AIR 1998 Raj. 165.
In this case, the petitioner challenged the constitutional validity of Sections 5, 27,33,34,35 and 37 of the Wildlife Protection Amendment Act, 1991, Amendment Act No. 44 of 1991, alleging that the impugned sections of the Wildlife Protection Amendment Act were ultra vires the provisions of the Constitution of India. The petitioner was of the view that the aforementioned sections of the impugned act, violated his Fundamental Right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. The Petitioner was a trader of ivory products and the amendment which has been referred to above banned the sale and trade of Ivory products and articles made out of ivory. The Petitioner was of the view that his livelihood was lost and contended that the ivory which he traded in was extracted from mammoths, who became extinct 17,000 years ago and the mammoths are an entirely different species as compared to the African and Indian Elephants. He elucidated upon the fact that the export of items made out of ivory was very much prevalent and it was demanded in huge quantities in the west. He went on to contend that the sale and trade of ivory products is an integral part of the Indian Culture and relates to the work of Indian Craftsmen and it is the only and perhaps the major source of income for these craftsmen. He further contended that if the ban is imposed on the trade of ivory products then it could further lead to a rapid increase in the poaching of Indian Elephants. The Petitioner was of the view that the ivory which is extracted from mammoth, an extinct species does not fall under the ambit and scope of the Wildlife Protection Act. The Petitioner submitted that because of a ban which has been imposed the dealers in mammoth ivory have too stopped dealing in ivory. The Rajasthan High Court after hearing the contentions laid down by the Petitioner, came to the conclusion that the ban which was imposed, imposing restrictions upon the sale and the trade of ivory products cannot be deemed to be regarded as unreasonable and unconstitutional. The Court was of the view that the restriction which was imposed under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Amendment to the Act was in consonance to the provisions of the Constitution and were not ultra vires the provisions of the Constitution. The restriction which was imposed upon the sale and the storage of ivory goods was a reasonable restriction on the fundamental right to carry on business. The Rajasthan High Court decided to uphold the constitutional validity of the ban, and held that such a ban was necessary and was passed in light of the provisions enumerated under the International Convention, namely the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
- Animal Welfare of India v. A Nagaraja and Ors, 595 (2014) 7 SCC.
The traditional sport of Jalikattu, which is practiced in the State of Tamil Nadu as a part of a ritual during the Pongal festival every year in January was brought under the scanner of the Madras High Court and the validity and the constitutionality of the traditional sport was challenged. The traditional sport of Jalikattu which was put to question in this case involved a series of fights between robust bulls. These robust bulls were released into the crowd of participants who tried to hold onto the fierce bulls. Whoever could fight the bulls and reach the finish line, was awarded prizes which were sponsored by the various sponsors of the festival. This was on the similar lines to the bull fights which have been utterly famous in other countries like Spain and Italy. A lot of people, right from the participants to the spectators, usually ended up injuring themselves in the process of fighting with the raging bulls. In fact, because of this, the bulls were also subjected to harsh and poor treatment at the hands of the participants. There were a lot of reports circulated with regards to the bulls being violently abused by participants and these reports made their way to the Animal Welfare Associations. The Animal Right Activists decided to take a prompt decision and curtail the practice of Jallikattu in the State of Tamil Nadu, calling for a blanket ban on the practice of this horrific sport. As a result of this, the supporters of the Jallikattu event held that it was unethical on the part of the Animal Welfare Association and the Animal Rights Activists, to deprive individuals from practicing their age old ancient customs. The supporters of the event were of the view that imposing a blanket ban on the said event was unconstitutional and an unreasonable act thereby violating their fundamental rights which were guaranteed to them under Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India. The supporters of the event further contended that, as it is an ancient practice which incentivizes the retention of native breeds of bulls like the Kangayam and Pulikulam breeds. They were of the view that the native breeds belonging to the State of Tamil Nadu are hardier drought beasts that are deemed to be regarded as more affordable and are easier for the local farmers in the State of Tamil Nadu to afford. However, a case was filed by the Animal Welfare Board of India in the Honorable Supreme Court of India, seeking a blanket ban on the ancient traditional sport. The Supreme Court ruled in the favor of the supporters and submitted that the age old practice of Jalikattu should be permitted, however, subject to certain conditions which were laid down by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held that the Animal Welfare Board would act as a watchdog and would closely monitor the sporting event, in order to ensure that the bulls are being treated properly by the participants, thereby ensuring that the bulls are safe and if any mishap occurs, then the Animal Welfare Board could take actions according to the gravity of the incident. Then, in the 2011, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, issued a notification asking the organizers of the Jalikattu Event to ban the use of bulls as performing animals and the Ministry with the said notification also provided that the said sporting shall be banned henceforth. Despite this notification, the organizers of Jalikattu continued practicing their age old traditional sport and used bulls as the participating animals. In fact, they continued to practice their age old customary sport with the help of the Tamil Nadu State Government’s backing. The Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act was passed and they continued playing this sport every year, using bulls as participating animals and subjecting them to cruelty. However, in the year 2014, the Supreme Court in response held that the state law passed by the State of Tamil Nadu was unconstitutional and unreasonable. It provided instructions to the Union Government to amend the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty Act (PCA), 1960, and laid down guidelines stating that, “bulls” shall be included under the ambit of the Act. Going against the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Ministry of Environment and Forests further went on to issue a notification in January, 2016, again providing a green signal to the organizers of the Jallikattu event to practice the ancient sport. However, the Animal Welfare Board and PETA India decided to take cognizance of the said issue and again on 14th January, 2016, they filed a number of pleas in the Apex Court, praying that the Supreme Court issues a stay order on the Government notification and upholds the ban. The decision which was passed by the Supreme Court, created a huge mess and lead to a strife between the locals and the authorities. The supporters of the event came out in huge numbers to support their age-old custom and traditional practice, by carrying out large scale protests. The protests emerged because the supporters of the event were thoroughly determined to make sure that the Supreme Court agrees to their views and understands that it is violating their fundamental rights. A lot of protests took place against the Apex Court’s decision, several members and participants of the Jallikattu were even arrested and detained by the Police Authorities. On 26th July, 2016, the apex court maintained its stand and refused to lift the ban on the practice of the Jallikattu event, when a review petition calling the ban as unconstitutional and unreasonable was filed by the Tamil Nadu Governor. As a result, the protests continued and a lot of people were arrested and put behind bars. The Tamil Nadu Governor with the help of the Center decided to pass an Ordinance which would allow the practice of the Jallikattu Events. The State Government also passed a new piece of legislation simultaneously, which received the assent of the Center. This new piece of legislation had a provision which exempted and removed Jallikattu events from the scope of the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty Act, 1960. The legal battle with regards to the Jallikattu event is still going on and continues to remain unresolved till date, with the question of its legality popping up each time it is taken up for deliberation. Despite all of these legal challenges which were brought upon this age-old practice, the sporting event is still practiced and played with utmost zeal and enthusiasm by the natives and indigenous population of Tamil Nadu. In fact, it is quite imperative to understand that before all these legal challenges were brought upon this age-old practice, the sporting event was only practiced in a few areas, however, as a result of the emergence of the legal battle, this sporting event gained prominence and has provided this event a massive sporting impetus. The Jallikattu event is now organized in an extravagant manner, the organizers are exorbitantly spending huge sums, despite the regulation and the ban which has been placed on it by the Supreme Court of India. The matter was even referred to a Constitutional Bench. A lot of questions were later raised with regards to whether this sporting activity, which is a part of the tradition of the indigenous people belonging to the State of Tamil Nadu, can be protected under the Constitution of India and whether it could fall under the ambit of Article 29(1) of the Constitution and whether the event could receive such protection under the scope of the Fundamental Rights.
- People for Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Union of India, Writ Petition (PIL) (Lodging) No. 2490 of 2004.
In this case, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a Writ Petition in the Bombay High Court against granting of a censorship certificate to a film titled, “Taj Mahal” under the Cinematography Act, 1952. PETA was of the view that protecting the welfare of animals is a stated constitutional goal embodied in Article 51A (g) and is a matter of legislative policy under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. PETA’s main allegation and the contention which was put forth by it was that there was an utter violation of the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and there was also a violation of the provisions of the Performing Animals Registration Rules, 2001, and these violations were made by the makers of the film, “Taj Mahal” during the shoot of the film. PETA was of the view that a film which wishes to use an animal needs to obtain a no-objection certificate from the Animal Welfare Board of India as it is deemed to regarded as a pre-requisite before the Central Board of Censorship grants the certificate of censorship to the particular movie. The High Court, in this case, ruled in favor of PETA and held that for any movie which aims or wishes to use an animal, it is a pre-requisite which is of utmost importance and needs to followed by every movie, that is, they firstly need to obtain a certificate from the Animal Welfare Board of India, which contains the various provisions of the Performing Animals Registration Rules, 2001. The Welfare Board would check whether the film which aims to use an animal in the course of its shooting, is not subjecting the animal to cruelty and is taking proper care of the animal. The Animal Welfare Board would then scrutinize whether the makers of the particular film are adhering to all the provisions as per laid down under the various sections of the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001 and at the same time whether they are adhering and following the various provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. This ruling which was passed by the Bombay High Court in 2006, acted as protection to non-human living beings from being exploited or being subjected to cruelty during the course of the shooting, which usually tends to go on for very long hours. The aforesaid ruling of the Bombay High Court prevented animals from abuses and cruelty. At the same time, the makers of films then became extremely cautious while treating animals on set and during shoots. They provided them with food, water, shelter and ensured that they were not subjected to any sorts of cruelty from any members of the crew.
- Ozair Hussain vs. Union of India, Civil Writ Petition No. 837 of 2001.
In this case, the Petitioner filed a writ petition seeking a direction to the respondents to protect the rights of various individuals who are severely against the use of animal and animal products, by making it compulsory for the manufacturers to print on their packaging, a list of contents that go into manufacturing a product. This will enable the consumers to make an informed choice when they tend to buy various products. The Petitioner further demanded that the respondents shall provide and disclose without any haste, the complete list of ingredients on the packets of the cosmetics, drugs and food items which it sells. If it uses any animal oil or animal meat, then it should be a compulsion for such companies to clearly mention the usage of such materials on the packaging of its goods. Further, the petitioner contended that it should be made necessary for companies who manufacture cosmetics, drugs and products made from animals to put a sign on the packaging of its product, which should be easily identifiable and should convey that it has an animal ingredient prevalent in it. The Petitioner contended that 60% of Indians are vegetarians and therefore it is imperative for manufacturers to specify the contents and the ingredients that they use in the manufacturing of their products, so that it would help the individuals to make the proper choice when it comes to the consumption of products and they could rely on products which are in consonance with their believes and opinions. The Petitioner was an animal welfare volunteer and a member of a number of animal welfare organizations. He was also a conscientious objector when it came to the consumption and use of animals and their remains for food, cosmetics and drugs. The Petitioner’s main contention was that there should be a full disclosure made by the various companies manufacturing cosmetics and food products and that such products made by them should have an easily identifiable mark upon them which would convey the origin or the ingredients of their products, showing whether their products are vegetarian or non-vegetarian. This would enable any person, be it an illiterate person or a literate person, to make informed choices before selecting the products. The Petitioner prayed that Articles 19(1)(a), 21 and 25 of the Constitution of India and even the Preamble to the Constitution of India demands the full disclosure of information. In a nutshell, the main contention of the Petitioner was whether the provisions of the Constitution mandate disclosure of information. The Delhi High Court, taking into consideration the provisions of Article 19(1)(a) which deals with the freedom of speech and expression and also taking into consideration, the provisions of Article 10(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, declared that the packaging of various food items, drugs (except those which fall under the scope of life saving drugs), cosmetics, shall contain a full disclosure, providing the complete list of ingredients that go into the manufacturing of the product. It should contain information with regards to whether it is a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian item. All items of food that contain whole or a part of any animal, except milk, shall be identified by a brown circle within a square outline showing that it is a non-vegetarian food item. Similarly, the products which do not contain any animal product, shall be identified by a green circle with a square outline, showing that it is a vegetarian food item. The reason behind this judgement was that an individual’s freedom of speech and expression is extended to his/her food choices as well and therefore, the judgement laid down by the Delhi High Court in this case, enables the citizens to make informed choices with regards to the products they buy and they consume.
READ MORE : How to get Veterinary Drug License for Veterinary Medicine Shop in India
- Gauri Maulekhi v. Union of India, Writ Petition (PIL) No. 77 of 2010.
This case dealt with the illegal export of cattle and buffaloes from India to Nepal. In Nepal, the Gadhimai festival is celebrated every five years. This festival, which is a tradition followed by the indigenous population of the Bara District of Nepal; wherein they sacrifice a number of animals such as buffaloes, rats, goats, pigs, birds, et cetera. They sacrifice these animals with the aim that the sacrifice will help them fulfill their wishes. The animal sacrifice which is undertaken in the Gadhmai Festival could be regarded as one of the world’s largest animal sacrifices ever. Before the commencement of the Gadhmai Festival, a huge number of animals are usually exported from India to Nepal. These animals are then used by the indigenous population of Nepal for sacrificing with the aim that it would fulfil their wishes. However, in this case, in 2014, the Supreme Court of India before the Gadhimai Festival in Nepal, vide its order dated 17th October, 2014, directed that the Central Government of India shall ensure that no cattle and buffaloes are transported to Nepal illegally. The Supreme Court of India laid down this order in line with the provisions of the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992, which conferred the powers upon the Central Government of India to look into the export and import policy and alter it according to the need of the hour. This power is conferred upon the Central Government as provided under the provisions of Section 5 of the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992. The Court further relied upon the Schedule 2 at serial no. 10 of Table-B of the Act and provided that live cattle and buffalo fall under the scope and the ambit of animals who cannot be exported without the exporter having a license to export them. The Supreme Court also laid emphasis on Section 11(3)(e) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The court was of the view that, “by reason of Section 11(3)(e) of the Act, commission or omission of any act in course of destruction of any animal in question cruelly, unless, of course, such destruction or preparation was accompanied by the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.” The Court was of the view that unnecessary pain or suffering cannot be inflicted upon any non-human living beings simply to satisfy the desires of humans. It was also held by the court that sacrificing an animal can no way be deemed to be regarded as a means to appease the Gods. Before the passing of this judgement, Sahastra Seema Bal collaborated with the petitioner to make a set of rules and regulations which need to be strictly adhered to when dealing with issues in the animal markets and the cattle markets. These set of rules and regulations which were laid down by the petitioner in collaboration with Sahastra Seema Bal was declared to be certified by the Court and the Court in its judgement, laid emphasis on the fact that the recommendations provided in these regulations need to be strictly followed and adhered to.
- N.R. Nair and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors, Civil Appeal Nos. 3609-3620 of 2001, decided on May 1, 2001.
The main challenge in this appeal which was faced by the Supreme Court was the special leave granted by the Kerala High Court. The Kerala High Court pronounced a decision in this case and upheld a notification which was issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, which stated that bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and lions cannot be trained or exhibited as performing animals. The basic facts of this case were that on 2-3-1991, a notification which was drafted under the provisions of Section 22 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 was issued. This notification was issued in light of curtailing the exhibition and training of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and dogs. This notification was therefore challenged by the Indian Circus Federation in the Delhi High Court. Post the issuance of the notification, another rule was passed which excluded dogs from the said notification. The Delhi High Court then took cognizance of the issue and a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court required the Government of India to have a fresh perspective into the notification. After this, a committee was set up by the Government of India which comprised of the Additional Inspector General (Wildlife), Director, Wildlife Institute of India, Member Secretary, Central Zoo Authority, Additional IGF (Retired) and the Director of the Animal Welfare Association. The committee consisting of the aforementioned individuals furnished a detailed report with regards to the impugned notifications and issued under Section 22 of the PCA, 1960, that the training of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and lions was deemed to be regarded as prohibited. This notification was then challenged in the Kerala High Court and the Kerala High Court passed a judgement in consonance to the aforementioned notification on 6-6-2000, wherein it upheld the validity of the notification which was passed by the committee consisting of the aforementioned individuals. In this appeal, yet again, the validity of Section 22 was brought into question. The Appellants main contention was that the provisions of Section 22 of the PCA, 1960 were arbitrary and unreasonable. They were of the view that under no circumstances provided under the ambit of Section 22, can the Central Government issue a notification banning the exhibition and training provided to any animal. The Supreme Court was of the view that animals are usually subjected to cruelty and then they are constantly abused and are put behind the four confines of a cell, trapping them and restricting their free movement. The Supreme Court dismissed the argument of the Appellants on the ground that the right to carry out any trade or business under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India was not violated in any way. The Supreme Court held that non-living human beings too have the right to free movement and this cannot be curtailed in order to fulfill the fundamental rights of the appellants. This was done as the animals were injured and tortured in the course of the training and exhibitions which were conducted by the Circus Authorities and were kept in a very dastardly manner. The Court upheld the Notification and the judgement of the Kerala High Court, as no animal should suffer and go through any sorts of pain and agony. The Court was of the view that the pain and suffering caused to the above mentioned animals would not be allowed under any circumstances.
- Shri Ajay Madhusudan Marathe v. New Sarvodaya CHS Ltd., First Appeal No. 676 of 2009.
In this case, the Consumer Court decided the case in favor of a resident who had lodged a complaint in the Consumer Dispute Redress Forum, that the Co-operative Housing in which he resided, made and passed a resolution which prohibited the entry of dogs into the lift of the building. The Society passed this resolution on the grounds that the dog was not deemed to be regarded as a consumer and a dog’s usage of the services of the building could lead to a massive spread of diseases and infections. The lift, being a closed compartment would store bacteria and germs which may be carried by the dog in his fur and this could spread like wildfire in the entire building and the lifts, thereby affecting the lives of the residents. These were the grounds which were put forth by the society for passing the said resolution, thereby disallowing pet dogs from entering the lift. The Court after hearing both the sides and after due deliberation, held that, the owner of the dog is a member who has a house in the impugned co-operative housing society and thereby falls under the ambit of the definition of “consumer” as provided under the provisions of Section 2(7) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The Court was of the view that the owner’s complaint and his grievance which he made to the Consumer Court was well within his rights. The Court held that the dog had a valid Kennel Club of India license and was registered with the Municipal Corporation. The Court also held that the dog was safe and was free from any sorts of diseases as the dog had even got a Health Certificate issued by the Bombay Veterinary College. This ruling laid a precedent that owners of houses in a co-operative society cannot be prevented on any grounds if they have pets and those pets can utilise all the services of the building in the similar manner as that of their owner.
- Mustakeem v. State of U.P., 1999 (3) ACR 2668.
In this case, the matter was filed before the Allahabad High Court. In this case, goats and cattle were transported to be slaughtered in a very dastard and barbaric manner. These goats and cattle were tied to each other very tightly, severely violating the provisions of Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. An FIR was lodged against the alleged owner of the cows and the goats for subjecting the animals to cruel and inhuman treatment. The owner requested the release of the cattle under the provisions of Sections 3,5a and 8 of the Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act. It was contended that it was the right of the owner of the cattle to ensure that no cattle were subjected to cruel or inhuman treatment, especially in cases where the ownership of the cattle is also in question. The cattle were under the custody of the U.P. Police Force during the pendency of the matter. The U.P. High Court, after a few deliberations were made, handed over the custody of the cattle back to the owner who had previously subjected the said cattle in question to cruel treatment. This step was taken when the matter was still under deliberation and was ongoing. An appeal was then made in the Supreme Court of India, wherein the Supreme Court passed a judgement declaring that the cattle should to be taken away from the custody of the alleged owner and should be housed in a separate Gaushala, which should be run and protected by the State Government of U.P., who as a matter of fact, previously too, held the custody of the said cattle. With regards to this judgement, it is imperative to understand that the Court held firm on its ground and held that once an animal is taken away from an individual’s personal care and protection because it is subjected to cruelty when the animal is in his/her possession, then in such a case, the animal under no circumstances whatsoever shall be returned back to the same person who previously caused the animal extreme pain and agony.
- Varaaki v. Union of India and others, Writ Petition (C) No. 689 of 2015, decided on 28th September, 2016.
In this case, a two judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising of the then Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy of the Supreme Court of India, on 28th September, 2016 passed a judgement refusing to get into the intricate matters dealing with religion. This case dealt with a religious practice of sacrificing animals with a motive to appease the gods and the goddesses. The Court was of the view that sacrificing animals under the garb of a religious practice is not justified by the law on any grounds as it is a clear case of subjecting the animals to cruelty under the various provisions of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by a Chennai-based journalist, Varaaki. The Supreme Court straightaway declined the PIL filed by the journalist. The Supreme Court was of the opinion that it was not in the position to pass an order preventing the killing and sacrificing of animals as a religious practice, when it has as a matter of fact, been sanctioned by the law. The Petitioner contended that when the animals are subjected to being slaughtered at various slaughter houses, it is usually governed by various rules and regulations and these animals which are slaughtered, are killed and slaughtered by trained individuals who adhere to the rules and regulations. The Petitioner submitted before the court that during the religious sacrifices, the animals are subjected to utmost pain and agony as they are slaughtered by untrained professionals, thereby subjecting these naïve creatures to even more cruelty. The Petitioner was of the view that such acts are clearly barbaric in nature and need to be curtailed. The Court, however, rejected the PIL filed by the Petitioner. However, Chief Justice Dattu held that, “The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act itself gives that right (of animal sacrifice as a religious practice.) The Court gave a rather strange judgement in this case and held that it is extremely crucial to uphold the faith and the religious ceremonies of each religion as these matters of religion are very sensitive to touch upon and one cannot be blindfolded by the centuries old traditions, which are still being followed today like clockwork. In light of these reasons, the PIL was rejected and the court allowed the petitioner to implead as a party in the matter before the Apex Court wherein the Apex Court was dealing with a matter, thereby challenging the decision of the Himachal High Court, which passed an order banning the sacrifice of animals on the grounds of religion.
READ MORE : PROTOCOLS FOR HANDLING OF POISONING CASES IN ANIMALS
- Kennel Club of India (KCI) v. Union of India, AIR 2013 (NOC) (Supp) 1439 (Mad.)
In this case, the petitioner sent a notice to the Veterinary Council of India on 11.11.2011, stating that the Animal Welfare Association Board of India, provided them information that puppies of dogs belonging to breeds like Doberman, Cocker Spaniels, Great Danes, Boxers, et cetera, were all subjected to avoidable and unnecessary cosmetic surgeries, putting these puppies through extreme pain and agony. These surgeries were done by the Veterinary Doctors and they performed surgeries such as the docking of the tails of these naïve puppies or perhaps by cropping off their ears. The Veterinary Surgeons were of the view that they performed these surgeries on the puppies on the demands made by their owners and they carried out these surgeries with utmost precision and care, ensuring that these puppies are not subjected to cruelty at the hands of the doctors. The Petitioner, however, was of the view that this method of cropping the ears of the puppies or docking their tails was severely against the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and violated Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The petitioner submitted that the said procedures caused severe mutilations to these puppies and were deemed to be regarded as punishable offenses. The petitioner relied upon the fact that countries like the UK have already taken a step forward and banned such activities, wherein the tail of the puppies is either docked or the ears of the puppies are cropped. The petitioners demanded that the Veterinary Council of India should take cognizance of the said issue and curtail the practice of the aforesaid issues. However, if they failed to do so and instead continued practicing then a strict action should be taken on those Veterinary Surgeons by the Animal Welfare Board of India. The Honorable High Court of Madras however, ruled in favor of the veterinary surgeons and quashed the notice issued by the Kennel Club of India to stop the practice of cropping the ears of the puppies. The Court was of the view that cropping the ears of the dog or docking their tails, does not subject them to any sorts of cruelty as provided under the provisions of Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. It is the sole discretion of the owners of the puppies to get their pup’s tail docked or to get its ears cropped. The Madras High Court was of the view that the cropping of ears of a pet dog does not amount to mutilation and subjecting the dog to aggravating pain and agony. The Court held that the Veterinary Surgeons registered with the Veterinary Council of India were specifically trained to carry out such operations with ease, thereby ensuring that the puppies didn’t have to undergo any sorts of any pain and ensured that they were under no circumstances subjected to cruelty. The Court also held that neither the Animal Welfare Board of India, not the Veterinary Council of India had powers to prohibit the veterinary surgeons from performing various operations of certain breeds of pet dogs such as the Doberman, Cocker Spaniel, Great Danes and the Boxer.
These above rulings made by various High Courts and a few judgements with regards to Animal Rights passed by the Apex Court of India show that our legal jurisprudence has certainly kept animals at the same threshold as that of humans. The Rights of Humans are extended to animals and they are treated equally, however, this does not mean that the constitutional freedoms which are guaranteed to humans are also in a similar way guaranteed to these non-human living beings. Certain rights like the right to freedom of expression and right to freedom of movement is somewhere curtailed and not given to these naïve creatures who possibly cannot explain their feelings like how humans do. Tons of arguments have been put before when various High Courts pronounced their judgements dealing with the cruelty which these animals are subjected to. It is imperative to understand that the ambit of the judgements or the verdicts, somewhere, do not cover certain specific areas where animal rights need a clear and better picture. The concept of equality is a figment of one’s imagination and it certainly does not exist. In the true real world, the concept of equality could be deemed to be regarded as a façade, because certain rights which are extended to humans are certainly not extended to animals and the laws protecting animals who are subjected to cruelty, have a lot of gaps persisting within them. Granting or equating certain rights which are thoroughly enjoyed by the wildlife, are not granted to domesticated or pet animals leading to the undermining of the wildlife protection causes.
In the recent times as well, India has seen a lot instances wherein big changes were brought about. Individuals in a lot of states are witnessing a change in their food consumption habits. The State of Maharashtra has banned the consumption and sale of beef. The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has also taken up a number of initiatives supporting animal rights and protecting animals who are subjected to cruelty. Despite all of these measures, the laws of the country somewhere need to be more stringent when dealing with individuals who commit offenses on animals, thereby subjecting them to a barbaric treatment and ensuring that they go through a lot of pain and agony. An incident occurred recently, wherein a dog was dastardly bashed by the security guards of a residential complex in Mumbai. The videos of this incident spread like wildlife, catching the attention of the various animal welfare associations and animal activists, however, as of now there has been no strict action taken against those barbaric men. An FIR had been filed and strict action against those individuals was promised, however, this incident hasn’t received enough attention. Similarly, an event occurred recently in the State of Kerala, wherein a pregnant elephant’s death spread outrage across the world. Animal Right Activists and several other individuals have filed a petition in the Supreme Court praying the Court to direct the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct an investigation with regards to the pregnant elephant’s death. This incident occurred in Kerala when a pregnant elephant died as a result of eating a pineapple which contained firecrackers. The petitioners in this case demanded that the Supreme Court shall intervene in the said matter and set up a special investigation team to further investigate and furnish a report containing the actual reasons of the death. The residents of the place where this incident occurred claim that, the firecrackers were placed inside the pineapple in order to kill wild boars which has been sanctioned by the State Government of Kerala, as wild boards usually tend to spoil the farms causing huge losses to the farmers. However, the petitioners are keen that an in-depth investigation be conducted to find out the real cause of death.
These incidents show as to how low humans could stoop down and what they are capable of. It is exactly for this reason it is extremely crucial for the legislature to come out of its lethargy and enforce certain stringent provisions in favor of animal rights which provide them complete protection. India is in a dire need of passing a wholesome piece of legislation which deals with all aspects of animal rights and the depravity that these animals face. There are laws which are enacted and are in place already, however, the provisions of these laws are outdated and need to be updated at the earliest, in order to ensure that animals are no longer subjected to ill-treatment at the hands of creatures who claim to be more sensible and smarter than them. It is time that India realises that humans are not the only inhabitants of this planet.
 Article 51(A)(g) of the Constitution of India, The Constitution of India by P.M. Bakshi.
 Article 48A of the Constitution of India, The Constitution of India by P.M. Bakshi.
 Animal Welfare of India v. A. Nagaraja and Ors., 595 (2014) 7 SCC.
 Section 2(16) defines the term, “Hunting”, The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
 Section 9- Prohibition of Hunting, The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
 Article 19- Protection of Certain Rights regarding freedom of speech, etc, The Constitution of India by P.M. Bakshi.
 Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India- Right to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business, The Constitution of India by P.M. Bakshi.
 Article 25 of the Constitution of India- Freedom of Conscience and free profession of religion.
 Article 26 of the Constitution of India-Freedom to Manage Religious affairs.
 People for Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Union of India, Writ Petition (PIL) (Lodging) No. 2490 of 2004.
 Section 5- Foreign Trade Policy- “The Central Government from time to time, formulate and announce, by notification in Official Gazette, the foreign trade policy and may also in the like manner, amend that policy.”- The Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992.
More links here