Plea for Legal Entity Status to Animals

Published: September 10, 2020

The Supreme Court recently heard a petition that seeks legal entity status to the entire animal kingdom. The Chief Justice of India observed that the status involves giving animals a legal personality.

What does this mean?

Currently, Animals are protected by laws like the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. But, giving legal entity status would mean that by judicial direction animals would be bestowed upon the capacity to sue and to be sued in courts of law. The petitioner-advocate have plead that animals should be considered property.

Animals as legal entities

Earlier, The Uttarakhand High Court had declared entire animal kingdom including avian and aquatic species as legal entities and bestowed them with rights, duties and liabilities of a living person. This decision was taken while hearing PIL filed by Narayan Dutt Bhatt in 2014. The petitioner had sought directions so as to restrict the movement of horse carts (tongas) that were running between India and Nepal through Banbasa, Uttarakhand. By this decision, the High court has enlarged the scope of petition in public interest so as to promote protection and welfare of the animals.

What the Uttarakhand High Court Ruled?

The court ruled that the entire animal kingdom are legal entities. They have distinct persona and they will now enjoy the rights, duties and liabilities of living person. The court directed the citizens throughout state that the humans will act as parents since human face for welfare and protection of animals. It also directed State Government to make sure that no animal carries excess weight. The direction banned use of any sharp equipment throughout state to avoid pain to animals. It made mandatory for veterinary doctor to treat animals brought to them by citizens and If animal cannot be brought to doctor they must personally visit and attend the animal without delay.

What is a Legal entity?

Legal entities are the legal or juristic persons created by law. They have distinct identity, legal personality, duties and rights. They may include private business firm or entity, non-governmental or government organisations, trusts and societies.

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