Animals are now ‘legal persons’, an Indian court expects citizens to be their guardians


  • The Punjab and Haryana High Court declared all animals, aquatic and avian creatures as ‘legal persons’.
  • The state governments of Punjab and Haryana are ensure that no individual is harnessing any animal to push vehicles in extreme high or low temperatures.
  • It also issued 29 mandatory directions to crackdown on cruel and brutal behaviour against animals.
In a landmark ruling, the Punjab and Haryana High Court declared all animals, aquatic and avian creatures as ‘legal persons’. It means they will not enjoy all the duties and liabilities of a living person to the animals, according to media reports.


The bench headed by Justice Rajiv Sharma said, "All the animals have honour and dignity. Every species has an inherent right to live and is required to be protected by law. The rights and privacy of animals are to be respected and protected from unlawful attacks,” reported Live Law.


The court also highlighted the aspects of animal safety like controlling the amount of weight of vehicles drawn by animals, banning the use of sharp objects against them. They also gave the responsibility to all the citizens of Punjab and Haryana, to act as their ‘guardians’.

Live and let live
In a 104-page order, bench said “Live and let live” animals. It also issued 29 mandatory directions to crackdown on cruel and brutal behaviour against animals. The decision was given after it heard a case where 29 cows were packed and transported from Haryana to Uttar Pradesh in two trucks.


As per the current order, the state governments of Punjab and Haryana are ensure that no individual is harnessing any animal to push vehicles in extreme high or low temperatures, exceeding 37 degree celsius during 11am and 4pm; and when the temperature below 5 degrees celsius in winter.

Justice Rajiv Sharma, who was part of the bench in this ruling, had earlier passed a similar judgement in Uttarakhand last year. The bench also fixed the amount of load to be carried by animals.


The use of animal drawing carts is also limited to nine hours a day in aggregate, not exceeding five hours without a break. The court has also banned the use of spike sticks, harness or yokes with spikes, knobs, projects and other sharp instruments to avoid the bruises, swelling, abrasions and severe pains.


Similar fashion
Last year in July, a bench of Uttarakhand High Court comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma passed a similar ruling that declared the entire animal kingdom as ‘legal persons’.

In fact, Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Alok Singh also declared the river Ganga and Yamuna, along all their tributaries, streams, every natural water flowing with flow continuously or intermittently of these rivers, as legal entities. They were also given all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.
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