In one of the first of its kind judgment, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has declared that all animals and birds have legal rights similar to humans and should be declared citizens. The owners of the animals will act as the “guardians” and will ensure welfare and protection of the animals.
Fixed Carry Load
The bench has also fixed the amount of load that animals can carry and banned their deployment for pulling vehicles in extreme hot and cold conditions.
The High Court has also banned the use of spike sticks, harness or yoke with spikes, etc. along with other sharp instruments that can cause harm, abrasions, and result in pain for the animals.
In order to avoid any inconvenience to animals, Justice Rajiv Sharma directed the police officials to make sure that the carts driven by bullocks or horses should be driven right way and the load shouldn’t exceed the court-mandated fixed load.
The court also limited work hours for the animals to 9 hours a day with breaks. It mentioned that any animal should not be forced to work more than 5 hours without a break.
The 104-page order with 29 mandatory directives for the welfare of animal kingdom is titled as “Live and let live,” by Justice Rajiv Sharma.
Avian & Aquatics
Justice Sharma also ruled that all avian and aquatics also have the right to live and bodily integrity. They should be honored with dignity, and not to be treated merely as property.
“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,” Justice Sharma ruled.
Justice Sharma directed the state government to ensure that no animal is kept in harness or draw vehicles between 11 am and 4 pm in summers when the temperature exceeded 37 degrees Celsius, and between 10 pm and 7 am when the temperature fell below 5 degrees Celsius in winter.
“Cruelty caused psychological pain to them and agony should not be caused to the animals. They breathe like us and have emotions. They require food, water, shelter, normal behaviour, medical care and self determination,” he said.
Regarding animal safety, Justice Sharma highlighted the need of fluorescent reflectors on carriages and collars for animals such as horses, bullocks and stray cattle.
- Animal-drawn vehicles not to carry more than four persons, excluding driver and children below six.
- Animals to be transported on foot only when the temperature is between 12-30°C; should be provided water every two hours and food every four hours; are not forced to walk for more than two hours at a stretch.
- While being transported they should only be tied by the neck and the rope must be covered with suitable cushioning.
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