Animals Have the Fundamental Right to Live with Dignity, Contends Petitioner; Delhi HC Issues Notice

Animals Have the Fundamental Right to Live with Dignity, Contends Petitioner; Delhi HC Issues Notice in Petition Seeking Direction to Prohibit Exhibition and Training of Animals in Circuses

July 23, 2020, Thursday

Anjana Gopinath

On Tuesday, the Delhi Court issued a notice in regard to a petition filed by the Federation of Indian Animal Rights Protection, seeking direction to prohibit the exhibition as well as training of animals in circuses. A Division Bench of the High Court comprising of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar issued notices to the Central Government and to the Animal Welfare Board of India in the matter.

The Court while addressing the plea to save animals from suffering amid the ongoing situations of the COVID-19 pandemic, also directed the Animal Welfare Board to conduct a national survey and file a report determining the condition of circuses during the lockdown.

Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan, on behalf of the Petitioner, sought a direction to declare Section 21 to 27 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 as ultra vires of Sections 3 as well as 11(1) of the Act and Article 21, 48A and 51A(g) of the Constitution of India, on the ground that they permit the exhibition or training of animals in circuses. The Petitioner has also challenged the Performing Animal Rules of 1973 and Performing Animals (Registration) Rules of 2001 on the ground that these rules permit the registration of animals as “performing animals” as related to circuses.

The Petitioner has stated in the plea that animals in circuses are trained to act contrary to their natural character and that this is done through cruel methods with include beating them with sticks and poking them with sharp metal rods. The Petitioner, which is a collective of over 100 organizations that work for the protection of the animals, contended that animals have the Fundamental Right to live with dignity and to be treated with compassion. It also stated that the prohibition of performances by animals in circuses will not come in conflict with the right of circus owners as provided under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.

The Petitioner has also made an observation before the court that even though performances by animals like monkeys, bears, tigers lions, etc. have been banned, more than a few other animals like hippos, horses, dogs, etc. are still subjected to such cruel methods of training, and thus, such acts need to be prohibited. The Petitioner also prayed for the development of an appropriate scheme for the rehabilitation of these animals.

The Court has set the next date of hearing of the matter on the 14th of August.

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