On Thursday, while upholding the laws allowing the practice of Jallikattu and other similar bullock cart races, the Supreme Court observed that there is no precedent to show that the Constitution of India recognises fundamental rights for animals. It noted that the 2014judgment in Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja And Ors., which banned jallikattu, also does not lay down that animals have fundamental rights.
A Constitution Bench comprising Justice KM Joseph, Justice Ajay Rastogi, Justice Aniruddha Bose, Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice CT Ravikumar noted –
“While the protection under Article 21 has been conferred on person as opposed to a citizen, which is the case in Article 19 of the Constitution, we do not think it will be prudent for us to venture into a judicial adventurism to bring bulls within the said protected mechanism. We have our doubt as to whether detaining a stray bull from the street against its wish could give rise to the constitutional writ of habeas corpus or not.”
In view of the above, the Bench thought it fit to leave the question of elevation of the statutory rights of animals to the realm of fundamental rights to be considered by the legislative body. Furthermore, it noted that Article 14 of the Constitution cannot be invoked by an animal as a person. An animal welfare legislation can be put to the test at the instance of a human being or a juridical person espousing the cause of animal welfare.
Considering the submission of the petitioners that the practice of bovine sports itself involves a strong element of involuntariness and infliction of some pain and suffering, the Bench noted, “Our jurisdiction, however, does not extend to provide an absolute protection to the animals from any manner of infliction of pain and suffering. What the broad theme of 1960 Act is that the animals must be protected from unnecessary pain and suffering.”.
Other reports about the judgment can be read here.
[Case Title: The Animal Welfare Board of India And Ors. v. UoI And Anr. WP(C) No. 23/2016]
Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 447