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Legal rights to animal kingdom: Activists term order impractical, vague

Uttarakhand High Court has accorded the status of ‘legal person or entity’ to animals in the state, saying ‘they have a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person’

dehradun Updated: Jul 05, 2018 21:55 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Legal entity,Uttarakhand news,Animal rights
The high court 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.(HT Photo)

A day after Uttarakhand High Court declared the entire animal kingdom as living entity, bestowing on them same legal rights as a living person, activists and experts across country terming the order “impractical” and “vague”.

K Ullas Karanth, noted biologist at Wildlife Conservation Society, said that declaring entire animal kingdom as having all the rights of a living human being may sound grand, but remains an “empty, impractical proclamation.”

“Millions of animals are being consumed and billions of insects are killed as crop pests and health hazards. They will all have to have constitutional rights of a living human being. Who can implement such a legal mandate?” he asked.

Adding on he said, “What we need are focused laws and regulations that specifically target rare and endangered species while recognizing that many other species do not need protection nor can we afford to protect them with the same seriousness. Reason should prevail in conservation not raw emotion alone.”

Echoing similar sentiments, Goverdhan Singh Rathore, son of India’s ‘Tiger Man’ Fateh Singh Rathore, said that the judgement was rather symbolic.

“It is basically symbolic. The court is trying to tell people that the animals too are living entities. But, it’s difficult to be implemented,” he said.

Giving an example, he said, “Cow has immense significance and has so many rights in India but we all know the abuse the species goes through. Just because we consider it holy, as mentioned in our scriptures, doesn’t make it something to be looked after. That’s the reality of India.”

The experts too termed the decision as vague.

“The intent of the honourable court is quite good. However, in practical life, it would be very difficult to implement it. Additionally, a distinction needs to be made between management of animals in the wild and those in captivity,” VB Mathur, director, Wildlife Institute of India, said.

The government, however, is planning to study the judgement and if needed will knock the doors of Supreme Court in the matter.

“We will first study the judgement and if required then will approach SC on the matter,” Harak Singh Rawat, state forest minister, said.

Adding on, he said that there should be clear mandate on conservation aspect of each species. “Just like The Wildlife Protection Act has identified species in accordance with their conservation status, similar division is needed. Species like chicken and goats can’t have similar protection status like that of tigers and elephants,” he said.

First Published: Jul 05, 2018 21:55 IST