New Delhi Correspondent
The High Court in northern Indian state of Uttarakhand on Wednesday gave the status of “legal person or entity” to all animals in the state, saying “they have a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.”
A division bench of the Court, consisting of justices Rajiv Sharma and Lokpal Singh, gave the status on the animal kingdom while issuing a series of directions to prevent cruelty against animals.
The order came on a public interest petition (PIL) which sought curbs on the movement of horse-drawn carts between Indian and Nepal through Banbasa. Uttarakhand shares border with Nepal and China.
“…to protect and promote greater welfare of animals including avian and aquatic, animals are required to be conferred with the status of legal entity/ legal person,” the bench said.
It said “The entire animal kingdom, including avian and aquatic ones, are declared as legal entities having a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person. All the citizens throughout the state of Uttarakhand are hereby declared persons in loco parentis as the human face for the welfare/protection of animals.”
The High Court also declared all the natives of Uttarakhand as the guardians of animals and endowed them with the duty to ensure their welfare and protection.
The bench also gave directions ranging from the amount of load allowed to be pulled by various animals in accordance with the kind of carriage being pulled to the amount of riders per carriage.
Banning the use of spike or other sharp tackle or equipment on the animal, the Court also directed the state government to ensure that if temperature exceeds 37 degree centigrade or drops below 5 degree centigrade, no person be permitted to keep in harness any animal used for the purpose of drawing vehicles.
The court also went into the aspect of animal safety, highlighting the need for fluorescent reflectors in carriages and animals, certificates of un-laden weight of vehicles, compulsory shelter of suitable size for horses, bullocks and stray cattle and a direction to veterinary doctors of Uttarakhand to treat any stray animals brought to them or by visiting them.

The court said that as the carts driven by animals have no mechanical devices, animal-drawn carriages have to be given Right of Way over other vehicles.

The PIL also sought that there should be provisions for vaccination, medical check-up of horses for suspected infections before entering into the Indian territory from Nepal and for regulating traffic in border areas