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Court: High court of Uttarakhand [1]

Full case name: Narayanan Dhutt Bhatt v/s Union of India & others

Decided on: 4-July-2018

Citations: 2018SCC OnLineUtt 645

Law applied: Article 21 of Indian Constitution, The Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960, The Transport of Animal Rules, 1978

About the Case

A Division Bench Comprising Rajeev Sharma and Log pal Singh,JJ. While deciding a Pro bono publico petition,the scope of which was enlarged by the Court for protection and welfare of animals, declared the entire animal kingdom as legal entities having a distant persona.

The petitioner sought restrictions on man movement of horse carts/togas from Nepal to India and vice versa. Provisions were sought for vaccination and a medical check-up of the horses for suspected infections .It was submitted that there is no check on fare charged from passengers ; ailing, infirm and old horses are abandoned by owners. Infected horses are hazardous to humans; moreover the tongas are overloaded that cause cruelty to animals. The High Court, while deciding this issue. took a note of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960,Section 11 of which defines. Cruelty to animals; And provisions for treatment and care of animals is made in section 35.

Reference was made to Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee v/s Som Nath Dass, (2000) 4 SCC 146 where it was held that the concepts 'Juristic person'. arose out of necessities in the home development for subverting the needs of faith and society. The court referred to Animal Welfare Board of India v/s A Nagraj ,(2014) 7 SCC 547 ,held that animal welfare laws have to be interpreted keeping in mind the welfare of animals and species' best interest, subject to just exceptions out of human necessity. It also held that internationally recognized animal rights to be part of Section 3 and 11 of PCA. Taking note of the conditions brought out by the petitioner, Which. Amount to. Cruelty to animals. The court declared the Air Animal Kingdom as a legal entity. Having a distant persona. With corresponding rights, duties, liabilities of a living person. Further all citizens Throughout the state of Uttarakhand. Where declared. Persons in. Loco parentis as the human face for protection of animals. The Court issued various directions to respondents including State of Uttrakhand including inter alia.

• medical examination of animals;

•fixation of maximum weight to be carried by animals

• Issuing license to owners of horse carts/tongas ;

•not more six persons to ride the vehicle drawn by animals;

•Fixation of time and temperature during which animals can be kept in harness.

• ban on the use of spike stick or bit ;

•putting of fluorescent reflectors on carts and animals for identification at night;

• providing shelters to animals;

• appointment of veterinary doctors, etc…


The present petition has been filed pro bono publico for the protection and welfare of animals. The petitioner has sought directions to the respondents to restrict the movement of cart/tongas from Nepal to India and from India to Nepal through Banbasa, District, Champawat, India. Petitioner has prayed that there should be provisions for vaccination, medical check up for the horses for suspected infection before entering into the Indian territory from Nepal and for regulating the traffic on the border area The route starts from Banbasa Champawat district, Uttrakhand, India to Mahendra Nagar, The petition include that there no check on the fare to be charged from the passengers and the luggage travelling from Nepal to India. The horse dung is polluting the river water . The ailing, infirm, and old horses are abandoned by the owners in the Indian territory. The infected horses are hazardous to human beings. The tongas are overloaded with horses and are being parked on the roadside at night. It is actually a cruelty to horses and there is no record of the persons or their identity plying the horse carts within the Indian territory. The petitioner argued that the record of horse carts is required to be maintained. The petition was enlarged with the consent of parties in larger public interest to promote the protection and welfare of the animals. The medical check up of the horses entering the Nepal border to the Indian territory should be conducted by the district administration. The fare and freight are not regulated. According to the treaty signed in the year 1991,the contracting party may impose restrictions for protecting public morals, protecting human, animal, and plant life. He has also argued that there is overlanding in the horse carts going from India to Nepal and vice versa. The animals are treated with cruelty. The horses are abandoned in Indian territory. He then argued that the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960 and the rules framed thereunder and the provisions of Prevention and Control of Infectious Contagious Disease in Animal Act, 2009 have not been enforced. He also argued that animals are transported in violation of Transport of Animal Rules, 1978.The animals are transported on foot to long distances causing immense pain and suffering to them. He also prayed that the entire animal kingdom may be conferred the status of legal entity. According to the averments made in the petition, horse carts plying from Banbasa to Nepal are also to be licensed and all the horses should be medically examined. The over-charging from the passenger at Banbasa by the tonga owners is also required to be regulated.The petitioner has placed on record the photographs showing the injured horses roaming on the Indian side. The horses tethered are unhealthy. They are roaming in the streets .


*whether there is protection of non human animals right?

*How does the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals come under this case?

*What are the acts considered in this case?

Law Concerned

1. The prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 1960

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960,authored by acclaimed dancer and animal lover Rukmani Devi Arundale.

It is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted in 1960 to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals and to amend the laws relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals. The act however makes a provision under heading: ’Saving as respects manner of killing prescribed by religion:Nothing contained in this Act shall render it an offence to kill any animal in a manner required by the religion of any community.

Section 3 in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

Duties of person having charge of animal – it shall be the duty of every person having the care or charge of any animal to take all reasonable measures to ensure the well being of such animal and to prevent the infliction upon such animal of unnecessary pain or suffering.

Section 11 in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960

Section 11 defines cruelty to animals as under:

Treating animals cruelly:1( if a person (a) beats, kicks, overrides overloads , tortures or otherwise treats any animals so as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering or causes, or being the owner permits, any animal to be so treated; or

(b) ( employs in any work or labour or for any purpose any animal which, by reason of its age or any other disease) infirmity; wound ; sore or other causes, is unfit to be so employed or, being the owner, permits any such unfit animal to be employed;or

(c) wilfully and unreasonably administers any injurious drug or injurious substance to 14(any animal) or wilfully and unreasonably causes or attempt to cause any such drug or substance to taken by any animal or

(d) conveys or caries, whether in or upon any vehicle or not, any animal in such a manner or position as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering; or

(e) keeps or confines any animal in -cage or other receptacle which does not measures sufficiently in height, length , breath to permit the animal a reasonable opportunity for movement; or

(f) keeps for an unreasonable time any animal chained or tethered upon an unreasonably short or unreasonably heavy chain or cord; or

(g) being the owner, neglects to exercise or cause to be exercised reasonably any dog habitually chained up or kept in close confinement; or

(h) being the owner of (any animal) fails to provide such Sacha Newman with sufficient food, drink or shelter; or

(I) without reasonable cause, abandons any animal in circumstances which tender it likely that it will suffer pain by reason of starvation thirst; or

(j) wilfully permits any animal, of which he is the owner, to go at large in any street, while the animal is affected with contagious disease, or without reasonable excuse permits any diseased or disabled animal, of which he is the owner, to die in any street; or

(k) offers for sale or, without reasonable cause, has in his possession any animal which is suffering pain by reason of mutilation, starvation thirst, overcrowding or other ill- treatment ;or (1) mutilated any animal or kills any animal by using the method of strychnine injunction, in the heart or in any other unnecessarily cruel manner or;)

[(m) solely with a view to providing entertainment

i)confines or causes to be confined any animal as a bait in a tiger or other sanctuary) so as to make it an object or p prey for any other animal; or

(ii) incites any animal to fight or bait any other animal; or

(n) organises keeps uses or acts in the management or any place for animal fighting or for the purpose of baiting any animal fighting or for the permits or offers any place to be so used or receives money for the admission of any other person to any place kept or used for any purposes; or

(o) promotes or takes part in any shooting match or competition wherein animals are released from captivity for the purpose of such shooting.

The Transport of Animal Rules, 1978

These rules may be called the Transport of Animal Rules, (1978).. (a) qualified veterinary surgeon means one who holds a diploma or a degree of a recognised veterinary college;… Rules 4 to 14 shall apply to the transport of dogs and cats of all breeds whether by rail, road, inland waterways, sea or in air.


In this case , petitioner has filed the case for Animal cruelty as per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 defined as “any act or neglect which may cause infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal(who is a living creature other than a human being). It is known by many different names such as animal abuse, animal neglect or animal cruelty, and is the harm caused to animals due to the omission or neglect of doing an act, or commission of a harmful or hazardous act for various purposes other than self- protection and survival.

It ranges from unintentional neglect to intentional killing. Cruelty to animals is mainly, not restricted to physical harm, but also includes psychological harm that includes mental agony, anguish, and fright. It can either be caused deliberately or simply due to delinquency of failures to take good care of an animal. Like humans, animals are also sentient, are capable of suffering, and have the interest to be treated properly, and lead their own lives. “All animals deserve equal protection of rights, regardless of how they taste or how convenient. It is to experiment on them. The act of cruelty to animals by humans does not merely reflect the sign of a minor personality flaw in the abuser but is symptomatic of a deep mental disturbance. The motive can be of causing harm or suffering for a specific achievement., such a killing animals for fun; cruelty to animals encompasses, inflicting harm as an end in itself, and the act of doing so is defined as zoosadism which means pleasure derived from cruelty to animals or by hurting them. This is somehow trending nowadays, that people in order to satisfy their pleasure, hurt animals through practising many acts of cruelty on them. When it comes to animal cruelty, the first and foremost thing which comes up in our mind is animal slaughtering, but unfortunately under the purview of Indian law, slaughtering is legal to some extent. Other than that, people use a plethora of acts of cruelty, abuse, and do in human treatment with animals. They are often enslaved, beaten, at times kept in chains, forced to perform for various kinds of human entertainment, they are also mutilated and confined to tiny cages for the purpose of killing and eating them; they are burned etc.. Animal abuse is defined as the use of animals beyond the animal limit. And die of lack of attention, they do not realise that their act is cruel and hurting a creature. Humans do not understand the importance of animals in ourselves, from the past decades they have generously benefited people and contributed to society in numerous ways.


In Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee v/s Som Nath Dass, where it was held that the concept ‘juristic person’ arose out of necessities in human development, for subverting the needs of faith and society. The Court also referred to Animal Welfare Board of India v/s A. Nagraj, which held that animal welfare laws have to be interpreted keeping in mind the welfare of animals and species best interest, subject to just exception out of human necessity.



The judgement on July 4,2018,whereby the members of animal kingdom were assigned legal personality. Regarding the constitutional validity of the judgement, the Court said, “ Article 21 of the Constitution, while safeguarding the right if human protests life and the word ‘life’ means the animal world “.The interpretation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India has extended its scope to even include animals within its ambit Further, this interpretation may be looked upon as a revolutionary change from anthropocentrism in India to some extent. The Division Bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Lokpal Singh while making the judgement issued a series of directions to prevent cruelty on animals . To protect and promote the greater welfare of animals including avian and aquatic animals were required to be conferred with the status of legal entity legal person. The entrusting of legal rights upon animals made capable of being represented by a custodian in the Court of Law for their rights. The Court also issued several directions upon both the citizens of Uttarakhand and the state for ensuring better conditions for animals. In this case, the Court held that all the citizens of Uttarakhand have been declared loco parentis but how they shall take care of animals., or to what extent one shall be responsible., shall one be responsible adult guardian for the acts of other citizens etc… are not clearly provided. This judgement made clear that some sections of humanity are still working for the ecosystem and the hope of their protection remains lighted to some extent, provided some more efforts are seriously needed in this direction.

The Court issued various directions to respondents including State of Uttrakhand including inter alia , medical examination of animals, fixation of animal weight to be carried by animals, issuing licence to owners of horse carts, not more than six persons to ride the vehicle drawn by animals, fixation of time and temperature during which animals can be kept in harness, ban on the use of spike stick or bit, putting of fluorescent reflectors on cart and animals for identification at night, providing shelters to animals, appointment of veterinary doctor.


Similarly , 2018 legal personhood to animals was conferred in the case of Narayan Dutt Bhatt v/s Union of India & Others. Then finally in 2019,a huge step taken forward in the global struggle for recognition and protection of non-human animal rights. In the case Karnail Singh and others v/s State of Haryana, the Punjab and Haryana High Court recognised all animals in the animal kingdom, including avian and aquatic species, as legal entities. Also, all the citizens of the state of Haryana were declared persons in loco parentis, which means in place of parent, and it will enable all the citizens within the state of Haryana to act as guardians for all non-human animals. The court opined that legal personhood should not only be limited to human beings. It further recognises that’s it’s moral duty and a binding legal obligation to the people under the doctrine of parens patriae which is describe as the power of the state to act as guardian for all the people including children, disabled individuals, and the non human being and all those who are unable to take care themselves in order to protect the right of animals.

Death of humanity or the real state of affairs

According to Anthony Douglas Williams “ when human acts with cruelty was to characterize them as ‘animals yet the only animal that displays cruelty is humanity “.We, human beings, have lost humanity, and are consistently doing acts which harm the other non – human beings. They do not have the human tongue to express their grief and pain, but that doesn’t mean they cannot feel the pain, which we humans are inflicting upon them everyday. Humans need to understand that they are the only ones who can understand their pain and raise their voice against the act of cruelty and abuse of animals.

This is a heart – wrenching incident of a pregnant wild elephant that lives in the Silent Valley of Kerala's Palakkad district. One day she was meandering into a nearby villages in search of food, where some locals offered her a pineapple filled with firecrackers, and due to hunger, she unknowingly ate it, as a consequences the fruit exploded in her mouth, after which her jaw was broken and her tongue and mouth deeply injured, leading to the inevitable tragedy. It is also said that locals of the land usually fill the pineapples with the country made crackers to protect their field from wild boars After which the innocent elephant with a baby in her womb, walked around in the village and finally died in the river. One the recent death of an elephant in Kerala, against an act of cruelty was conducted where a tribal gang of 12 people killed by explosion using bombs covered in meat in a small town in Tamil Nadu. Another dreadful incident occurs in Guwahati, where an 8 year olds male leopard was mercilessly lynched to death by a group of people who after killing him removed his teeth and nails and paraded with his dead body.


The imperceptible penalties of PCA Act and other animal laws in India pose a serious problem is better implementation of these laws As the penalty for violation of animal right range from 10 to 15 rupees which is not commensurate with the gravity of the offense. So, there is a need for stricter laws for cruelty which will lead to cruelty cases.

People should intervene if they witness animal cruelty, abuse or neglect and report immediately to the respective authorities.

The rules which were made for the protection of animal need to be followed strictly. As per the rule, water and food should be provided to transporting cattles during transit and there must be a certificate from a veterinarian when the cattle are transported from one place to another. There are many sections in Constitution of India as well as the IPC made for punishing animal abusers, Also, according to the Constitution of India, protection of wildlife is our duty, which every citizen to fulfil. The plethora of laws enacted by the Indian legislature reflects the seriousness of the issue in India and makes the legal system of India as string as compared to other countries against animal cruelty and promotion of animal welfare. General awareness among people is a dire need of an hour, the major implementation of animal welfare laws is unawareness among all category of people. Although the Supreme Court has given the right of legal personhood to animals and a right to life under Article 21 to live with dignity and respect and they are harmed by humans .We as humans must use our consciences and should make all possible efforts to give animals that respect and rights they deserve. Important criticism to grant personhood to animals is that by forcing animals to be governed as persons under man made legal system. We assert human supremacy on other species.



*Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraj a

*Ancient Indian legislature , Legal Rights of Animal

*Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 59,O.C.A Act, Session, cl (a) (1960)

[1] Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee v. Somnath Dass, (2000) 4 SCC 146 [2] Animal Welfare Board of India v. A Nagraj, 20147 SCC547

This article is written by Diyamol Joseph of School of Legal Studies, Kannur University.

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