Do Animals have Right to Life under the Indian Constitution: Karnataka HC

Do Animals have Right to Life under the Indian Constitution : Karnataka HC

Karnataka High Court: The appeal was approved by S.P Sandesh J. and the order under appeal was set aside. 

The details of the case are such that one Animal Rights Activist, Sri Harish K.B., lodged a complaint at the Puttenahalli Police Station against the accused of animal cruelty offences punished under Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (‘PCA Act’ for short) and cited Section 428 of the Penal Code, 1860. The defendant is an unlicensed dog breeder who performs illegal dog breeding operations with several female dogs and puppies in his care who are subjected to abject cruelty by confining them in an unsanitary kennel.

The lawsuit notes that the confined dogs are in docks, without sufficient food, water and medical treatment being given, thereby subjecting them to discomfort and distress. The lawsuit even speaks of the pathetic state of a few dogs who require urgent veterinary treatment and attention. In addition, the petitioner filed an application under Rules 3 and 4 of the Animals Prevention of Cruelty (Care and Treatment of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017, (‘PCA Rules, 2017′ for short) seeking clarification for the petitioner to allow custody of the dogs before the above criminal proceedings are disposed of and seeking maintenance at Rs 50,000 per month at the expense of medical costs. The learned Magistrate rejected the warrant of application and ordered the police involved to fork over the dogs’ temporary custody to the charged. Aggrieved by the decision, the present petition was filed immediately.

  1. The case is registered under Section 11 of the PCA Act on the allegation that the animals that are subjected to cruelty and as per Rules 3 and 4 of the PCA Rules, 2017, the accused cannot retain custody of animals that are subjected to cruelty, pending litigation. 
  2. Counsel relied on judgment Pinjrapole Deudar v. Chakram Moraju Nat, (1998) 6 SCC 520 and submitted that an important consideration while granting custody is to examine the health condition of the animals at the time when they were seized. 
  3. Article 51A(g) of the Constitution of India confers a constitutional duty on all citizens and the State to have compassion for living creatures. 
  4. Counsel relied on the Animal Control Board of India v. A. decision. Nagaraj, (2014) 7 SCC 547, in which the accepted rights of animals was found to be:

Release from famine, thirst, and malnutrition. 

Independence from misery and fear. 

Physical and thermal pain freedom. 

Protection from discomfort, accident, and illness. 

and Right to communicate natural behaviour patterns. 

“Furthermore, it was noted that “66. The protection granted to animals pursuant to Sections 3, 11, etc., shall only constitute constitutional rights. To ensure their honour and integrity, the same must be raised to the level of human rights, as has been achieved by a few countries around the world. The privileges and freedoms granted to animals according to the terms of Sections 3 and 11 must be read in accordance with Articles 51A(g) and (h) of the Constitution, the Magna Carta of Animal Rights.

Finally, it was claimed that giving the animals to the custody of a person who has not handled them well and has not taken care of them amounts to handing the animals over to the custody of the wrong person and is thus entitled to set aside the challenged order. 

The respondents’ lawyer submitted that the police have provided unlawful custody of the dogs held by the respondent 2. There are no offences under Section 428 of the IPC and Section 11 of the PCA Act. It is also his point that one of the dogs died when the plaintiff was granted custody, and the Court would not report the same thing. Not attracting cruelty is Section 11 of the PCA Act and Rules 3 and 4 of the PCA Rules, 2017.

The Court found out that the primary purpose of both the Act and the Laws is to protect the rights of the dogs exposed to cruelty. Furthermore, it was noted that Rule 3(b) states that the learned Magistrate shall take care of the circumstances of the dog and exercise the control in compliance with the intent of the enactment and the health of the animal and that the same was not considered during the transmission of the order under appeal.

Section 21 of India’s Constitution Vis a Vis Animal Rights 

The Court relied on the case of the Animal Welfare Board of India (supra) and observed that the very intent and wisdom of the legislation must be considered, as well as the extension of the meaning and scope of Article 51-A(g) and (h) and also of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which states that all forms of life, including animal life, which are required for the purpose of living, are protected by the environment. It is noted that animal health and welfare have been constitutionally recognised in compliance with Sections 3 and 11 of the PCA Act and the rights framed in accordance with the Act. In compliance with Article 51-A(g) and (h) of the Constitution of India, the right to live in a safe and clean environment and the right to seek protection from human beings against the infliction of undue pain or suffering is a right granted to animals under Sections 3 and 11 of the PCA Act. 

Thus, considering the evidence, authoritative decisions and findings, the Court held that the learned magistrate had made a mistake and that it warranted the Court’s intervention. 

Purnima Ojha
‘Law is not law if it violates the principles of eternal Justice’ very beautifully penned down by Lydia Maria Child and I strongly believe, if the law is not made for the goods of people then at least it should not violate the essence of the principle of law that is “JUSTICE”. Law is made to keep each section of society on an equal platform and being a member of the law fraternity, I will try to contribute to the welfare of society. I am Purnima and I graduated from zoology (Hons) and am currently pursuing a law degree from Lloyd law college, Greater Noida. My desire is to bring a fair and unjust environment to our society through my hard work and persistent efforts.