Report No. 269
E. Supreme Court judgments dealing with Animal Welfare:
2.23 The Supreme Court in Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja19 held that animals have a right to live with dignity, intrinsic worth and without unnecessary pain and suffering. The Court while dealing with the matter directed the AWBI and Governments "to take steps to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on the animals, since their rights have been statutorily protected under sections 3 and 11 of PCA Act.".
2.24 The Court in this case has elaborately dealt with the issues with reference to the Constitution and the PCA Act and observed as under:
"34. Section 3 of the Act deals with duties of persons having charge of the animals, which is mandatory in nature and hence confer corresponding rights on animals. Rights so conferred on animals are thus the antithesis of a duty and if those rights are violated, law will enforce those rights with legal sanction... ...Primary duty on the persons in charge or care of the animal is to ensure the well-being of the animal. "Well-being" means a state of being comfortable, healthy or happy.
42. Sections 3 and 11, as already indicated, therefore confer no right on the organisers of jallikattu or bullock cart race, but only duties, responsibilities and obligations, but confer corresponding rights on animals. Sections 3, 11(1)(a) and (o) and other related provisions have to be understood and read along with Article 51A(g) of the Constitution which cast fundamental duties on every citizen to have 'compassion for living creatures'. Parliament, by incorporating Article 51A(g), has again reiterated and re-emphasised the fundamental duties on human beings towards every living creature, which evidently takes in bulls as well.
All living creatures have inherent dignity and a right to live peacefully and a right to protect their well-being which encompasses protection from beating, kicking, overdriving, overloading, tortures, pain and suffering, etc. Human life, we often say, is not like animal existence, a view having anthropocentric bias, forgetting the fact that animals have also got intrinsic worth and value. Section 3 of the PCA Act has acknowledged those rights and the said section along with Section 11 cast a duty on persons having charge or care of animals to take reasonable measures to ensure well-being of the animals and to prevent infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering."
2.25 The Supreme Court in State of Gujarat v. Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab Jamat & Ors20, held that by enacting article 51A(g) and giving it the status of a fundamental duty, one of the objects sought to be achieved by Parliament is to ensure that the spirit and message of articles 48 and 48 A are honoured as a fundamental duty by every citizen. Article 51A(g), therefore, enjoins that it is a fundamental duty of every citizen "to have compassion for living creatures", which means concern for suffering, sympathy, kindliness etc., which has to be read along with sections 3 (Duties of persons having charge of animals), section 11(1)(a) and (m) (Treating animals cruelly), and section 22 (Restriction on exhibition and training of performing animals) etc. of the PCA Act21.
2.26 The Supreme Court, while hearing a Transfer Petition filed by the Animal Welfare Board of India praying for transfer of four writ petitions from different High Courts, seeking the phasing out of battery cages for egg laying hens and switching to a cage free humane option, to one Court, held that "we expect the Government of India to convene the proposed meeting and expedite the process of framing of the rules and report further developments on the subject to the High Court of Delhi upon transfer of the cases to it."22 The writ petitions are currently pending before the Delhi High Court. 23
2.27 The Supreme Court disposed of WP No. 330 of 2001, Common Cause, A Registered Society v. Union of India vide order dated 17.02.2017, wherein while dealing with the issue of illegal treatment of animals during transport and slaughter, directed the State governments and Union territories to comply with the compendium of Indian standards prepared by the Government of India.